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Biography Of Jesse Clark White: Inside The Life Of American Educator And Politician

Jesse Clark White


Jesse Clark White is an Illinois-born educator, politician, and former track and field athlete. He is a Democrat who has served as the 37th Secretary of State of Illinois since 1999. He is Illinois’ longest-serving Secretary of State and the state’s first African-American Secretary of State. From 1993 to 1999, he was the Cook County Clerk of the Register of Deeds, and from 1975 to 1993, he was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.

White was born on June 23, 1934, in Alton, Illinois. He attended Alabama State University, where he played baseball and basketball before graduating in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree. He served in the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division from 1957 to 1959. White established the Jesse White Tumbling Team in 1959 as a positive alternative for children in the Chicago area.

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He was first elected Secretary of State of Illinois in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. He won all 102 electoral districts and received over 2.3 million votes, the most ever received by an Illinois statewide candidate in a quarter-century. White was re-elected to a third term in 2006 with 63 percent of the vote statewide. In 2010, White was elected to a fourth term with the most votes of any statewide candidate.

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White took over for George H. Ryan, who was accused of corruption. White promised to restore integrity and eliminate all forms of misconduct right away. Establishing a code of conduct for employees, establishing strict fundraising guidelines prohibiting employee donations, strengthening the Office of the Inspector General, and passing legislation giving the Inspector General position broad powers to root out corruption were key actions.

White introduced a teen safety bill in 2007, which resulted in Illinois having one of the best Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs in the country. The number of teen fatalities in Illinois decreased by more than 40% during the first full year of the new law’s implementation. White diverted federal funds from the Illinois State Library in 2010 so that local libraries in Illinois could continue to receive state funding despite the state’s fiscal crisis.

Doris Ivy White, Jesse’s sister, received a kidney transplant in 1991, which fueled his advocacy for organ donation, and White, as secretary of state, dramatically expanded the state’s organ and tissue donation program. In addition, White introduced legislation to establish the Registry of Organ and Tissue Donation with First Consent, which makes a person’s decision to donate legally binding. More than 5 million people have registered for the registry since 2006.

White was inducted into the Halls of Fame of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the League Basketball Coaches Association, and Alabama State University. He was also inducted as a Friend of the Community into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1999. The Chicago History Museum honored him with the Jane Addams Award for Distinction in Social Service in 2015. Glenna White is White’s only child.



Written by How Africa News

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