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Civil rights leader Vernon Jordan has died at 85

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Vernon Jordan helped integrate the South, fought for economic equality in the Black community and counseled presidents and business leaders. Michelle Miller looks back on his life.

Video Transcript

- The famed civil rights lawyer Vernon Jordan has died. Jordan led a remarkable life, breaking down barriers first as an activist and later as one of the most influential power brokers in Washington. Here's CBS's Michelle Miller.

MICHELLE MILLER: Vernon Jordan's smooth counsel was sought after by business leaders and presidents alike, none more notable than the president who tapped him in 1992 to lead his transition team.

VERNON JORDAN: I'm honored and pleased to serve my friend Bill Clinton and our friend Al Gore.

MICHELLE MILLER: --which ultimately earned him the nickname First Friend. But Washington wasn't all that defined him. The Atlanta native son helped integrate the South right out of law school, when he escorted the first two black students into the University of Georgia in 1961.

VERNON JORDAN: We of the Urban League movement--

MICHELLE MILLER: He led the National Urban league fighting for economic equality for the Black community, a passion a failed assassination attempt by an avowed white supremacist couldn't diminish.

VERNON JORDAN: Somebody has to be in a boardroom. Somebody has to be in the streets. Somebody has to be in a courtroom.

MICHELLE MILLER: Jordan lived those words. Although never a courtroom lawyer, he served on the boards of dozens of corporations. But he never forgot his roots.

VERNON JORDAN: The next generation has to take the baton and keep going. And if we keep going, we're going to get where we should be.

MICHELLE MILLER: Vernon Jordan dead at the age of 85. Michelle Miller, CBS News.