Kwame Raoul - The First Haitian State Senator in Illinois

In 1774, Jean Baptiste DuSable, a black frontierman born in Haiti, founded the City of Chicago, Illinois.

Senator Kwame Raoul
Senator Kwame Raoul

In 2004, Haitian Immigrant's son Kwame Raoul Became The First Haitian State Senator in Illinois.

Senator Kwame Raoul was appointed on November 6, 2004 to fill the state Senate vacancy caused by the resignation of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, who had just been elected to the United States Senate.

230 years, Ladies and gentlemen, 230 years from the time the Haitian Dude founded the city.

Look out World! The Haitians are coming!

Here is the article:

Haitian Immigrant's Son Kwame Raoul to replace Barack Obama in Illinois

HYDE PARK, ILLINOIS - While many Blacks around the world still "cheered" Barack Obama as the first African-American elected to the United States Senate in the 21st Century, and the fifth one in US history to serve in the nation's highest legislative body.

Since last Saturday, Haitians in Illinois are very proud because the son of Haitian-born immigrants Marie Therese Raoul and late Janin Raoul, M.D., Kwame Raoul, was appointed by the Democrats to lead the 13th District as its new state Senator, filling the seat left vacant by Obama.

Kwame Raoul, a senior attorney for the City Colleges of Chicago, a lifelong resident of Hyde Park, was chosen by Democratic committeemen to replace Obama in the Illinois Senate.

The announcement came from Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who headed an 11-member committee to find a replacement from among seven candidates, including several progressive attorneys and a pro-choice pastor.

The committee met in a McCormick Place conference room for several hours where they interviewed candidates individually on policy positions and their backgrounds.

Born in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 1964, Kwame Raoul was the only candidate who had experience running for office, which may have been the deciding factor in his being chosen.

He campaigned unsuccessfully in 1996 to unseat Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who was also on the selection committee.

As he accepted the 13th legislative district seat, Raoul seemed stunningly similar to the man he was replacing.

Wearing a tailored dark suit and red tie, Raoul held his 4-year-old daughter, Mizan, who clutched her father much like Obama's daughters clung to him during his campaign.

Beside him, settling their fidgety 6-year-old son Che, stood Raoul's wife, Kali Evans-Raoul, a professional-image consultant who admitted responsibility for shaping her husband's polished style.

Raoul will finish Obama's term, but will need to be elected in 2006 to keep the seat.

Democrats were eager to appoint a successor for the General Assembly's fall veto session, which begins Monday.

They are expected to push for more casinos, including one in Chicago, and ask for millions of dollars to prevent cuts to CTA service.

During the interview sessions, Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) quizzed each candidate on whether they would support a Chicago casino.

Raoul refused to commit, saying he needed to study specific legislation.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) had concerns for the Lakeside district, which includes parts of the Gold Coast and the South Loop:

"How do you feel about meeting with white folks?"

Raoul laughed: "I've been meeting with white folks all my life."

Raoul was sworn in by state Supreme Court Judge Alan Freeman on the spot.

He replaces Barack Obama at Illinois Senate District #13, who was elected to the U.S. Senate Nov. 2 and resigned his old post Thursday.

Obama did not however consult with the committee or make a recommendation prior to appointment according to Hairston.

"I think Kwame Raoul is more than qualified and I think he's got that fire in his belly," Hairston said.

"He has exposure and experience with constituent services. He has demonstrated for the past few years his commitment to his constituents."

Raoul's appointment held particular significance for him since it marked the first anniversary of his father's death.

Dr. Janin Raoul was a well-known South Side doctor.

"I feel his spirit is with me," Raoul said.

The announcement came as a surprise to some. Will Burns, who works as an advisor to state Senate President Emil Jones left hurriedly following the announcement but vowed to run against Raoul in the 2006 election.

"You have to trust the judgment of the committee men and respect their decision," Burns said to reporters.

"We live in America and there's going to be elections in 2006 and we'll see what happens then."

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said her colleagues were most impressed with Raoul because of his ward organizational work, an affiliation no other candidate had.

Raoul said he would immediately work on issues involving funding for public schools and the Chicago Transit Authority, which he said was "in a crisis situation."

"I look forward to rolling up my sleeves starting immediately and working with Senate President Emil Jones," said an emotional Raoul, 40, after a quick swearing-in ceremony at the Hyatt McCormick Place Conference Center.

This district has a strong history of independence," Raoul said.

"I wouldn't be a rubber stamp."

Much of the information in this article was extracted from articles published on Chicago Sun-Times.com and HPHerald.com

Thank you Carmel S. Victor for sending this article to me.

Woodring Saint Preux

Reply to this article  (1)

Tags: Barack Obama, Illinois senate, Senator Kwame Raoul, Haiti Diaspora News, Haitian-American Senators in the United States, Politics of Haiti, Haitian Diaspora News

Return to Articles List

All Comments (1)

Topic says...

I think this happening is great.

Mainly because you do not hear about alot of haitians in Illinois.This happening is letting you know that Haitians are coming up and becoming better and more producitve in the United States and the world.

As a haitian myslef Iam extremly proud and motivated.

Reply  ... More

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

E-mail (required, will not be published)

Subject: Kwame Raoul - The First Haitian State Senator in Illinois edit

» »