Chicago-Kent home page

Student portal

Faculty portal

Staff portal

About The Record

Current Record headlines

Publication deadlines

The Record archives

 

 

Black Law Students Association

 

Week of March 1, 2004

 

Black History Maker Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Kent Alum

Jean-Baptiste was inaugurated as Second Ward alderman three weeks after winning a landslide election with 84 percent of the vote. With the oath of office he became the first Haitian elected to public office in Illinois and the only new face on the nine-member City Council.

He was born the day before Christmas in 1949 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jean-Baptiste's parents worked in a hotel that catered to American tourists. Eventually, through their connections there, they managed to come to the United States as domestic workers. Two-year-old Lionel stayed behind with other family members, but emigrated later.

His life changed when his parents, always in search of better jobs, moved the family to Evanston to be near his aunt and uncle who were already living there. At Evanston Township High School, in addition to soccer and student council, Jean-Baptiste arranged house visits between black and white students, lobbied for African-American history classes and protested the Vietnam War.

After high school, Jean-Baptiste attended Princeton University, where he studied political science because he was interested in activism. After graduation, he taught in Bedford-Stuyvesant, an impoverished community in New York City. He worked in New York's housing department and taught at New Rochelle Community College. And when he became a lawyer, it was because he saw law as a powerful tool to address issues concerning rights and liberties.

Building bridges just might be Jean-Baptiste's job description as alderman. A self-described good negotiator, Jean-Baptiste has the chance to intervene in several municipal relationships, including that between the city and Northwestern, and the neighborhoods and downtown.

For Jean-Baptiste, his next four years as alderman are just the next stage of the fight.

To read more about other Black History Makers, visit www.thehistorymakers.com.

CALENDARS

.: Main Chicago-Kent event
   calendar

.: Academic calendar

.: CLE calendar

.: Alumnae/i event calendar

.: Admissions calendar

 

Chicago-Kent home page

Student portal

Faculty portal

Staff portal

About The Record

Current Record headlines

Publication deadlines

The Record archives