Prepared and compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
Tom Robb of the Journal and Topics, a newspaper that serves Chicago’s Great Northwest Suburbs, reported in the newspaper’s January 5, 2023 issue that the Aga Khan Council is awarding Jesse White, who has just retired as Illinois’ Secretary of State, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. His retirement took effect January 9, 2023.
“I am honored to receive the lifetime achievement award from the Aga Khan Council and the Ismaili community,” White said, according to the Robb’s report in the Journal and Topics. “I am proud to have served the people of the state of Illinois for the past 24 years working to restore integrity to an office that had been under a cloud of controversy, improve road safety, and enhance customer service for everyone. I thank the Aga Khan Council for this honor.”
Numerous newspapers in the USA have reported about Jesse White’s retirement. In a very interesting story in The New York Times under the title “Once Told to Move to the Back of the Bus, Jesse White Became an Illinois Institution”, the (now former) Secretary of State has been described as a person who “usually managed to get where he wants to go, making unlikely allies and remarkably few enemies in the bruising world of Illinois politics, all while avoiding major public scandal in a state notorious for corruption.” Jesse White’s career, the the Times notes, “has included stints as a soldier, professional baseball player and teacher, as well as nearly half a century in public office.”
On November 4, 2011, the Secretary of State welcomed Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, upon his arrival in Chicago for the signing of an Agreement of Cooperation between the State of Illinois and the Ismaili Imamat. During the visit Jesse White presented Mawlana Hazar Imam with a personalized Illinois licensed plate. The Secretary was also present during discussions which took place between the Aga Khan Development Network and Illinois State Representatives on areas of mutual interest, including early childhood education.
In 2018, the office of Jesse White and the Ismaili Council for the Midwestern United States, hosted the Aga Khan Award for Architecture exhibit at the historic James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, a building renowned for its rich architecture. The event began with a keynote address from Secretary White, highlighting the work of Mawlana Hazar Imam and the significance of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. He said “the world would be a better place if we all cared about the people we live with, like His Highness the Aga Khan.”
Jesse White, a Democrat, leaves the office as Illinois’ longest-serving and first African American secretary of state. His successor Alexi Giannoulias was installed as the new Secretary of State on January 10, 2023.
Date posted: January 11, 2023.
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