Jesse Clark White is an American athlete and politician from the State of Illinois. A member of the Democratic Party, he has served as the 37th Secretary of State of Illinois since 1999. He is the longest-serving and the first African American to hold this position. Previously, he served as the Cook County Recorder of Deeds from 1993 to 1999 and in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1979 to 1993.
On August 20, 2015, White announced during the Illinois State Fair, that he wouldn't seek reelection to a sixth term in 2018.
First elected to Secretary of State of Illinois in 1998, White was re-elected in 2002 by winning all 102 counties and garnering more than 2.3 million votes, the largest vote total by any candidate for Illinois statewide office in a quarter of a century. In 2006, White was re-elected to a third term, having received 63 percent of the vote statewide, White was elected to a fourth term in 2010, the leading vote-getter in the entire state
White was born in Alton, Illinois. He attended Alabama State University, where he played baseball and basketball, and he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1957. He served in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army from 1957–1959. 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.
In 1959, White founded the Jesse White Tumbling Team to serve as a positive alternative for children residing in the Chicago area. Since its inception, more than 10,700 young men and women have performed with the team.
White served as a paratrooper in the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division and as a member of the Illinois National Guard. He played minor league professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs organization, which was followed by a 33-year career with the Chicago Public Schools system as a teacher and administrator.
White became a political protégé of longtime Cook County Board President and 42nd Ward Democratic Committeeman George Dunne. White was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1974 and served for 16 years. He was elected Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, Illinois, in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. White was elected Secretary of State of Illinois in 1998, was re-elected in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. In recent years he has also served as Democratic Committeeman of Chicago's 27th Ward.