Black History Month 2021

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Please join us for a discussion with veterans from across the Chicagoland area, to learn more about the sacrifice and service of our nation's heroes. The Honorable Jesse White and Judge William "Bill" Hooks will host a discussion on notable black veterans who have served in our uniformed services. 

The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Brian Williams, U.S. Air Force veteran and trauma surgeon, and Leon Mangum, U.S. Army veteran. Members from the military-affiliated community will also recognize African American veterans who have made an impact in their lives.

In recognition of our heroes, please participate in our Veteran Black History Month trivia challenge. Top 3 winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. 

The Honorable Jesse White

Jesse White is Illinois' 37th Secretary of State. White was first elected to the office in 1998 and won landslide victories in 2002, in which he won all 102 counties, and again in 2006, 2010 and 2014. On Nov. 6, 2018, White was re-elected to a record-breaking sixth term, winning another landslide victory in which he earned over 3.1 million votes statewide – the most ever by a statewide candidate in a midterm election. White became Illinois' longest serving Secretary of State on May 30, 2014.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office is the largest and most diverse office of its kind in the nation, providing more direct services to the people of Illinois than any other public agency. White's office issues state ID cards, vehicle license plates and titles; registers corporations; enforces the Illinois Securities Act; administers the Organ/Tissue Donor Program; licenses drivers; and maintains driver records. As State Librarian, Secretary White oversees the State Library and literacy programs, and as State Archivist, he maintains records of legal or historic value.

Under White's leadership, the use of new technology along with modernizing and streamlining operations has significantly improved customer service. Wait times in facilities are shorter than ever before. Illinois has become a national leader in road safety as White strengthened DUI laws, reformed the truck driver licensing program and overhauled teen driving guidelines. As a result, traffic fatalities have decreased, with drunk driving deaths down nearly 50 percent and teen driving deaths reduced by 51 percent. In 2014, White was inducted into the Illinois High School & College Driver Education Association Hall of Fame.

Prior to his election as Secretary of State, White served as Cook County Recorder of Deeds – a job to which he was first elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. Before that, he served 16 years in the Illinois General Assembly, representing the most culturally, economically and racially diverse district in Illinois.

In 1959, White founded the internationally known Jesse White Tumbling Team to serve as a positive alternative for at-risk children residing in public housing in and around the Chicago area. Since its inception, more than 18,000 young men and women have performed with the team. White has spent 60 years working as a volunteer with the team to help kids stay away from gangs, drugs, alcohol and smoking, and to help set at-risk youth on the path to success. The program has received international praise. This year the team will make more than 1,500 performances using eight units, consisting of 225 young men and women. Currently, there are 51 members enrolled in college. In 2014, the Chicago Park District opened the Jesse White Community Center and Field House in honor of White's lifelong contributions to the community. In addition, a school in Hazel Crest, Illinois, was recently named the Jesse C. White Learning Academy, and Division Street in Chicago was designated Jesse White Way in honor of White.

White served our country as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division and as a member of the Illinois National Guard and Reserve. He played professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs organization, which was followed by a 33-year career with the Chicago Public Schools as a teacher and administrator. Jesse White earned his Bachelor of Science from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) in 1957, where he was a two-sport athlete earning all-conference honors in baseball and basketball. In May 1995, White was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. He was an all-city baseball and basketball player at Chicago's Waller High School (now Lincoln Park High School) and was inducted into the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in June 1995. In 1999, he was inducted into the Alabama State University Sports Hall of Fame. Born in Alton, Illinois, he now lives on Chicago's Near North Side. White has two daughters, Glenna and Lorraine, and two grandchildren, Jesse and Susan.

The Honorable Judge Bill Hooks

Judge William H. Hooks, a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel with experience that spans more than a quarter century and includes work as an intelligence officer, law school adjunct professor, prosecutor, judge advocate, civil litigator, Cook County Special State’s Attorney, and Criminal Defense Counsel, has a reputation as one of Chicago’s toughest lawyers. Hooks has defended persons and/or companies facing grand jury investigations, felonies and misdemeanors in the state and federal courts involving a myriad of charges ranging from street crimes, to a full array of white collar, blue collar and no collar matters.

Hooks Law Offices successfully advocated on behalf of lawyers, investment professionals, judges, athletes, civil rights activists, business owners, corporations, medical professionals, and others. An overwhelming number of Hooks’ clients were referred to him from other lawyers and judges. His former courtroom adversaries often recommended Hooks for their relatives, friends and even retained Hooks for themselves when trouble knocked.

Chicago Magazine featured him as one of Chicago’s “30 Tough Lawyers.” N’DIGO Magazine branded Hooks in its annual Dr. King issue, in the article, “Attorney Bill Hooks: A Lawyer’s Lawyer with a Few Things to Say.” One of his winning closing arguments is featured in ten sections of the esteemed Steins Closing Arguments.

Hooks was the first African-American president of Chicago’s Federal Bar Association, and is a past president of the Cook County Bar Association, the oldest African American Bar Association in America. He is frequently a legal commentator for radio, television, bar groups, community, and other audiences.

Judge Hooks has received a number of awards and recognitions as both a lawyer and as a judge.  As a judge some of his most recent honors have included the Law Day USA, Liberty Bell Award (2011); the Phi Alpha Delta Honorable Justice Mary McMorrow Distinguished Service to the Profession Award (2012); and the United States Marine Corps, Recruiting Command Birthday Ball Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker Award (2012).

Judge Hooks is also a statutory member of the Cook County Board’s Justice Advisory Council.  In that appointment Hooks recently organized and chaired the Steering Committee tasked with the renaming of the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in honor of Judge George N. Leighton.

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Judge Hooks to two other positions to assist the Court. He now serves on the Illinois Courts Commission, where he hears matters as a member of the court of  last resort after actions against judges and justices have been heard by the Illinois Judicial Board. He also sits as a member of the Courts' Illinois Judicial Conference on its Criminal Law and Probation Committee.

With Hooks' advocate role on a hanger and with his black judicial robe fully activated, he remains a friend of social justice and equal protection under the law.  He also remains an enemy of injustice, bias and prejudice in our civil and criminal justice systems. Judge Hooks is now assigned to the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County where he presides over felony matters. 

Dr. Brian Williams, MD

Brian H. Williams, MD, FACS, is a highly skilled surgeon specializing in trauma surgery, acute care surgery and surgical critical care. Dr. Williams’ expertise allows him to quickly evaluate complex surgical emergencies and life-threatening traumatic injuries to provide the best treatment option for each patient in the operating room and the surgical intensive care unit.

Along with being a talented surgeon, Dr. Williams is a passionate educator. He believes that part of being a good leader is investing time to teach and mentor students, residents and fellows throughout their career.

As a surgeon working the night shift at Parkland Memorial Hospital, he treated victims of the July 7, 2016, Dallas police shooting and gained national prominence for his public comments about racism, gun violence and policing. 

Dr. Williams is also an advocate to eradicate racial inequities in health care, promote diversity in medical education and address the root causes of gun violence. He travels the country as a thought-provoking speaker sharing his unique insight on resilience, racial equity and social justice.

Leon Mangum

Leon Mangum served as a Medic in the U.S. Army as well as two additional medical occupational specialties. Following his service, Leon served as a Programs Analyst and later as a Health Science Specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He currently serves as a JROTC instructor with Chicago Public Schools. 

Mr. Mangum most recently served as the Director of the Allen J Lynch Medal of Honor Veterans Assistance Program – the predecessor to the current foundation, which provided support to Veterans that were facing serious financial emergencies.

Leon studied Biological Science and holds degrees in Nutrition and Health Sciences. He is also certified as a Veteran Service Officer (VSO). He is a recipient of several awards for service including the Chicago Defender’s prestigious “Men of Excellence Award” and the Utilities Workers Military Assistance Program’s “Excellence in Advocacy Award”.