The Crusader Newspaper Group

Illinois honors Jesse White with building dedication

Recognizing the long-standing contributions and public service of former Secretary of State Jesse White, lawmakers have named a state-owned Loop office building in his honor. The building at 115 S. LaSalle St. in Chicago will now be known as the Jesse White State of Illinois Building. Jesse White, the first African American elected to the office, is 89 years old.

This decision was driven by State Senator Willie Preston and Representative Harry Benton, reflecting White’s impactful career as Illinois Secretary of State from 1999 to 2023, during which he implemented significant advancements in technology and customer service.

“Jesse White’s legacy is defined by his commitment to public service, his dedication to the community, and his remarkable achievements as Secretary of State,” Preston stated. “Naming this building in his honor is a testament to his tireless efforts and the positive impact he has had on Illinois.”

White’s tenure as Secretary of State saw innovative and transformative leadership that increased efficiency and accessibility within the office. Notably, he spearheaded several key initiatives:

Organ and Tissue Donation Campaigns

Jesse White was a staunch advocate for organ and tissue donation, launching extensive campaigns to increase donor registration. Under his leadership, Illinois saw a significant rise in the number of registered organ donors. White’s efforts were instrumental in saving countless lives and providing hope to many on transplant waiting lists.

Driver License Services

White modernized the driver’s license services, introducing technology to streamline processes and reduce wait times. He implemented new security measures to prevent identity theft and fraud. Additionally, White expanded services to include Real ID compliance, ensuring Illinois residents could meet federal identification standards.

Protesting Misuse of Disabled Parking

White was also known for his advocacy for the rights of disabled individuals. He actively protested against the misuse of disabled parking spaces at malls and other public areas. His efforts led to stricter enforcement and higher penalties for those who violated disabled parking regulations.

Supporting Veterans in the Trucking Industry

Understanding the unique challenges faced by veterans, White launched initiatives to help them transition into the trucking industry. He facilitated programs that provided training and support, ensuring veterans could secure stable employment and leverage their skills in civilian life.

Consumer Alerts

White was vigilant about consumer protection, issuing alerts on various scams and fraudulent activities. He worked to educate the public on how to safeguard their personal information and avoid falling victim to financial fraud.

Making Historic Photos Accessible

One of White’s notable contributions was making historic photos and documents accessible to the public. He digitized archives, preserving important historical records and ensuring they were available for educational and research purposes.

In addition to these initiatives, White founded the internationally recognized Jesse White Tumbling Team, which has inspired young people since 1959. “White’s career in public service has always been about helping others and giving back to the community,” Preston noted. “This building will be a reminder for all who serve the great state of Illinois to live up to White’s legacy—working to improve the lives of our neighbors every day we hold office.”

The resolution to rename the building passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate, marking a rare honor for a living individual. “This is a fitting tribute for a person so unique in history in our state,” Benton said. “He has done so much for the state of Illinois and had so much approval from Chicago all the way to downstate. Everybody loves Jesse White.”

In his response, White expressed his gratitude, saying, “But this tops it all. A state building named after yours truly. As they would say in my neighborhood, ‘you the man.'”

In his commentary, Walter Jacobson, former Chicago television news personality and a current Chicago radio news personality, emphasized White’s integrity and warmth, describing him as a master politician of clarity and honesty. “Jesse White, a champion of statewide campaigns, now 89 years old and having been elected and reelected six times, has always been focused on making life better for everybody,” Jacobson remarked.

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