Jesse White Looks Back on Decadeslong Career in Illinois Politics | Chicago News

Illinois will have a new Secretary of State for the first time in 20 years.

Alexi Giannurias, the Democratic former state treasurer, will be sworn in as his successor on Jan. 9. Secretary Jesse White, who did not run for re-election this year.

White has always made history. As Illinois’ most popular politician, he won all 102 counties in multiple election cycles. He was Illinois’ longest-serving secretary of state. And as the first black person to set up an office.

However, he was hesitant to enter politics in the 1970s. That’s when George Dunn, then-Chairman of the Cook County Commission, recommended running for state legislature in an 85 percent white constituency.

“I said to him, ‘Let me think, I have to go skiing this weekend.’ I’ll let you know when I’m back,” White told WTTW News in a recent interview. There was a hill.For about 10 years I went down this hill and failed to negotiate.So on this particular day I fell 12 times without falling.I said, ‘If I do this If I can handle hills, I can certainly handle the political arena.”

White spent 16 years in the Illinois House of Representatives representing Illinois’ most diverse neighborhoods, covering Chicago’s Gold Coast and Mag Mile, Cabrini Green where he moved and grew up from Alton. , near St. Louis, age 7.

Prior to running for Secretary of State in 1998, White served as Cook County Deed Recorder.

At a pre-primary forum on “Chicago Tonight” in March 1998, he explained to host John Calloway why he was perfect for the job, saying, “My administrative and legislative experience is , far surpasses the experience of my opponents.” “One of the things I want to do in the Secretary of State’s office, he said, is make sure the office is easy to use.”

Winning that race was not taken for granted. That was the year that then-Speaker of the House Michael Madigan became leader of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Madigan and other powerful Democrats had another endorsed candidate in the primary, Tim McCarthy, who was accused of defending President Ronald Reagan in an assassination attempt in 1981. He became famous as an injured Secret Service agent.

White said that Madigan had originally told White that he wanted a candidate from the South, and White met with Madigan to express his disappointment that the party had endorsed McCarthy. According to White, Madigan said he wants to retain control of the House and believes McCarthy will help by winning the Republican Party.

But it was White who won that race.

White said he and Madigan “buried the hatchet” and the party donated $10,000 to help White defeat Republican candidate Al Salvi.

“I beat him decisively and became the first African-American secretary of state in the history of Illinois. Now you know the rest of the story,” White said.

White is full of stories.

After Rosa Parks’ arrest, when she argued with her pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr., about King’s non-violent plan to desegregate public transportation in Montgomery, Alabama. had.

When King described his Gandhi-rooted approach, White said he raised his hand.

King called him over and said, “Jesse White, what can I do?” I said “Doctor”. King, you know me well. I’m from Chicago. And we don’t operate like that. He said, ‘Jess, follow the script and everything will work out.’ That’s what I did and we got into the civil rights movement,” White saaiad said.

“In this wide world, we must find a way to live in peace and harmony with each other, and never dislike anyone because of their race, creed, or color,” White said. I reconfirmed.

A father of three, White excelled in sports all his life.

He played basketball and baseball and taught gymnastics at Alabama State University (now Alabama State University). Despite his prowess on the court at his current Lincoln Park High School, he landed there after other colleges said his 5-foot-8-and-a-half frame was too short.

After graduating in 1957, he went to Wrigley Field to try out the Chicago Cubs and was one of five out of about 300 ball players.

“Then I got drafted four days before I went to spring training. So instead of going to spring training, I was going to basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. I want to jump off the plane while I’m there. I made up my mind,” said White.

he served at 101After discharge from the 1st Air Division and the Illinois National Guard, he made 35 jumps as a paratrooper.

Upon his return, he spent time as a minor leaguer in the Cubs organization before teaching in Chicago’s public schools.

Be a veteran. career as a professional athlete. He never loses a political race.

His name is in the purses of nearly every Illinois resident (he jokes with people who’ve met him, saying they seem to know they can’t leave the house without him).

All resume top hits, but none of White’s most famous.

In 1959, during a summer job in the Park District, Jim was asked to do a show.

What was a one-time event Jessie White Tumbling Team.

“Kids see a lot of value in coming to the park every day to be with you. “I said, ‘Okay, I’m going for another year.’ And another year later, 64 years later, I’m over 18,500 people.” I have children with me, but only 15 of them broke the law.”

Jesse White’s tumblers have traveled all over the world, including Croatia, China and Israel.

“I remind them that there should be no leaves, no smoke, no pipes,” White said. “You know what I’m talking about: there are no drugs. And what they need to keep in mind so that they can get to school on time every day and get the best education possible.” will remind you.”

The Jessie White Tumbling Team offers scholarships and tutoring programs.

White said they use a “tough love” approach.

Although he no longer falls, he still does his old army training regularly, which consists of jumping jacks and push-ups.

On his role as Secretary of State: White says he’s proud to have grown the organ donor registry program (personal to him, the transplant added 23 years to his sister’s life). given that). More recently, residents have been able to book their license reservations online.

White has said he is ready to hand over the secretary of state to Giannurias on Jan. 9, but he will be available for immediate contact by phone.

He will retire at age 88 (turning 89 on June 23), but plans to continue teaching Tumblr.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter. @AmandaVinicky

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