SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — An Illinois elected official was honored at the U.S. Capitol this week.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) commemorated Secretary of State Jesse White in a speech on the Senate floor Monday. White is set to retire from public office next year after being Illinois’ Secretary of State for 24 years.
“Secretary White is a rare leader: a living legend and a truly humble man,” Durbin said in his eight-minute speech. “He loves his work because he works for who he loves, the people of Illinois.”
Before becoming the Secretary of State, White was the Cook County Recorder of Deeds for two terms and worked in the Illinois General Assembly.
Outside of government, he served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, played professional baseball for seven years and a teacher, coach, and administrator for Chicago Public Schools. White also created the world-famous Jesse White Tumblers, who recruit inner-city kids to perform gymnastics to provide a positive alternative, according to the organization’s website.
“He’s recruited more than… 18,500 young kids to his tumbling team, training generations of our city’s children into expert acrobats,” Durbin said. “Their handsprings and backflips have entertained crowds around the world from Canada to China.”
White is the first African American to be Illinois’s Secretary of State and is now the longest-serving Secretary of State in Illinois history.
In 2002, he also made state history by being one of only three elected officials to win all 102 counties for a statewide election. And in his most recent election in 2018, he earned 3.1 million votes, the most for any statewide candidate in Illinois history.
“When he was first elected, he declared that he would strive to be the best secretary of state we have ever seen,” Durbin said. “Safe to say, he lived up to that aspiration.”
You can watch the whole speech on the senator’s YouTube channel.