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The Honorable Bobbie Steele

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Information about The Honorable Bobbie Steele

Profile image of The Honorable Bobbie Steele

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
City Commissioner

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pears
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Savannah, Georgia
Favorite Quote:
You Become What You Think About.

Birthplace

Born:
10/18/1937
Birth Location:
Cleveland, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
City Commissioner

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pears
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Savannah, Georgia
Favorite Quote:
You Become What You Think About.

Birthplace

Born:
10/18/1937
Birth Location:
Cleveland
See how The Honorable Bobbie Steele is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Cook County Commissioner Bobbie L. Steele was born October 18, 1937, in Cleveland, Mississippi, to Mary and Abraham Rodgers. Steele has served as a commissioner since 1986, making her the longest serving African American woman in the history of Cook County government.

The oldest of seven siblings, Steele left her hometown after graduating from high school in 1954. She attended Alabama A&M University in Huntsville before moving to Chicago. Marrying Robert P. Steele in 1956, Bobbie Steele completed a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1966, attending night classes at the Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State University). She immediately went to work in the Chicago Public Schools. Returning to studies of her own, Steele earned an M.A. degree from Roosevelt University in 1982.

With significant community and political organizing experience under her belt, Steele sought election to the Cook County Board of Commissioners with the support of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1986, Steele won in a landslide and has worked since that time to ensure minority and female participation in county contract bids. Steele also co-sponsored Cook County's human rights and ethics ordinances and is the first and only African American woman to serve as chairperson of the Finance Committee of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Steele has served nationally in leadership positions, chairing the National Association of Counties’ Deferred Compensation Advisory Committee and serving as president of the National Association of Black County Officials. Locally, she has served on the Women's Committee of Chicago, the Chicago Women's Center, Operation Brotherhood, the Aids Foundation of Chicago and numerous other organizations. Steele and her husband have seven adult children and twelve grandchildren.

On July 19, 2006, Steele was named the interim president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, replacing John Stroger who had to resign because of poor health. In December of 2006, Steele retired as interim president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Steele was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 1, 2002.

See how The Honorable Bobbie Steele is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bobbie Steele's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bobbie Steele lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bobbie Steele describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bobbie Steele describes her parents' family backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bobbie Steele talks about her father being raised by a white family in Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bobbie Steele talks about her father being a teacher in Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bobbie Steele describes her mother's educational background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bobbie Steele describes the sights, smells, and sounds of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bobbie Steele compares the night sky in the city and the country
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bobbie Steele describes her childhood interests
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bobbie Steele describes the foods she ate as a youth
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Bobbie Steele describes her childhood personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Bobbie Steele talks about the books and magazines her family read
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Bobbie Steele talks about her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Bobbie Steele describes her experiences in school
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Bobbie Steele describes her career aspirations as a young adult
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bobbie Steele talks about the teachers that influenced her, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bobbie Steele talks about the teachers that influenced her, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bobbie Steele describes Cleveland Colored Consolidated High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bobbie Steele talks about her father's occupations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bobbie Steele describes her decision to attend Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bobbie Steele describes her decision to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bobbie Steele describes her involvement at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bobbie Steele describes the science professor who influenced her at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bobbie Steele talks about professors that inspired her at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Bobbie Steele talks about why she left college and settled in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Bobbie Steele talks about attending Chicago Teacher's College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Bobbie Steele describes how a professor at Chicago Teacher's College challenged her to build her confidence
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Bobbie Steele describes how a professor at Chicago Teacher's College shaped her teaching skills
  • Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Bobbie Steele talks about the early years of her marriage
  • Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Bobbie Steele describes her perception of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Bobbie Steele talks about her parents' involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bobbie Steele talks about why her mother carried a gun
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bobbie Steele talks about accommodationist attitudes in Mississippi
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bobbie Steele compares discrimination in Mississippi and Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bobbie Steele comments on how integration impacted the black community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bobbie Steele talks about the black community's need to care for itself
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bobbie Steele comments on black-on-black crime
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bobbie Steele talks about her teaching career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bobbie Steele describes being drawn to community organizing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bobbie Steele describes her civic and political involvement from the 1950s to the 1980s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Bobbie Steele remembers Mayor Harold Washington's mayoral campaign
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Bobbie Steele describes what launched her county government career in Cook County, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Bobbie Steele describes her relationship with Alderman William "Bill" Henry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Bobbie Steele describes what motivated her to run for public office
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bobbie Steele describes how she learned about county government
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bobbie Steele remembers being elected Cook Count Commissioner in 1986
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bobbie Steele describes her goals as Cook County Commissioner
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bobbie Steele describes her role in amending the Cook County Purchasing Ordinance in 1988
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bobbie Steele talks about the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bobbie Steele describes her accomplishments as a Cook County Commissioner
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bobbie Steele talks about the issues, programs, and services she is currently focused on
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bobbie Steele talks about her future plans
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bobbie Steele talks about her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Bobbie Steele talks about the challenges and triumphs of being a county government official
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Bobbie Steele narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bobbie Steele narrates her photographs, pt. 2