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The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr.

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Information about The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr.

Profile image of The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr.

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
County Commissioner

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Florida
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
5/19/1929
Birth Location:
Helena, Arkansas

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
County Commissioner

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Florida
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
5/19/1929
Birth Location:
Helena
See how The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

John H. Stroger, Jr., the first African American president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, was born May 19, 1929, to Ella and John Stroger, Sr. in Helena, Arkansas. Stroger attended an all black elementary school and Eliza Miller High School, earning his diploma in 1949. Stroger attended Xavier University in New Orleans, a historically black Catholic university, where his classmates included Norman Francis, Dutch Morial, and Richard Gumbel. Graduating in 1953 with his B.S. degree in business administration, Stroger taught school, coached basketball, and worked closely with the NAACP.

At his mother's urging, Stroger moved to Chicago in 1953 where he became involved in Chicago’s South Side Democratic Party. It was there that Stroger met Congressman William L. Dawson, Ralph Metcalfe, and Harold Washington. Stroger was appointed as an assistant auditor with the Municipal Court of Chicago in 1954, and served as personnel director for the Cook County Jail from 1955 to 1961. Stroger then worked for the financial director of the State of Illinois while earning a law degree from DePaul University Law School in 1965. In 1968, Stroger was elected 8th Ward Committeeman. After his election to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1970, Stroger went on to chair every major committee including finance, health, building and zoning. As Commissioner, Stroger sponsored legislation aimed at assisting minority and female owned businesses. He also cosponsored the county's human rights, ethics, and assault weapons ban ordinances. In 1994, Stroger became the first African American to be elected president of the Cook County Board and Forest Preserve District. As board president, Stroger balanced the county's $2.9 billion dollar budget, instituted a juvenile drug court, appointed a commission on women's issues, and opened a new AIDS treatment and research facility. Dedicated to health care, Stroger served on the Chicago Metropolitan Healthcare Council and the board of South Shore Hospital. Stroger's efforts to win approval for a new Cook County Hospital resulted in the facility being named the John H. Stroger, Jr. Cook County Hospital. Stroger was president of the National Association of Counties and was appointed by former President Bill Clinton as a member of the Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations. In 2006, Stroger suffered a severe stroke and had to resign as president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners despite being re-elected earlier in the year.

A long time member of St. Felicitas Catholic Church, Stroger and his wife, Yonnie, have a son, Todd, and a daughter, Yonnie Lynn. Another of Stroger's sons, Hans Eric, passed away while in college. Stroger’s surviving son, Todd, is the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Stroger passed away on January 18, 2008 at the age of 78.

See how The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr.'s interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his paternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his mother's first marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his childhood in Helena, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls the sights, sounds and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes being disciplined by his father and black male role models
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about the 1919 Elaine race riot in Helena, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his childhood extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about memorable teachers at Eliza Miller High School in West Helena, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his decision to attend Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls meeting HistoryMaker Norman Francis at Xavier University and talks about playing basketball
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his decision to major in business administration
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about graduating from Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about teaching and coaching basketball in Hughes, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls his move to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his arrival on Chicago's South Side in 1953
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his exposure to politics in Helena, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his first jobs in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his patronage to Ralph Metcalfe
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers working as a part-time investigator for the Department of Investigation for the City of Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about forming political connections as a transplant to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers Ralph Metcalfe
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers Harold Washington
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers meeting his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his political career after finishing law school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes the racial demographics of Chicago, Illinois' 8th Ward in the late-1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about politicians in Chicago, Illinois and his involvement with Operation Breadbasket
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls the 1968 riots in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his involvement with Operation Breadbasket
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes the issues he has advocated for while on the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about Mayor Richard J. Daley's handling of police brutality cases
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about working with George Dunne
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about the Cook County Hospital and plans to reconstruct the building
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his relationship to Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about mayors Michael Bilandic and Jane Byrne
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about Harold Washington's election and mayorship
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about the Ryan family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes how he was elected president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his achievements as president of Cook County Board of Commissioners
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about challenges that the Cook County, Illinois government faces
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his parents, his son HistoryMaker The Honorable Todd Stroger and his mentees
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. reflects upon his life and his support for Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about serving as president of the National Association of Counties
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his grandchildren and his hometown
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. narrates his photographs