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The Honorable Roland Burris

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Information about The Honorable Roland Burris

Profile image of The Honorable Roland Burris

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
State Attorney General
State Comptroller
U.S. Senator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fruit, Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Only the best is good enough.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1937
Birth Location:
Centralia, Illinois

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
State Attorney General
State Comptroller
U.S. Senator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fruit, Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Only the best is good enough.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1937
Birth Location:
Centralia
See how The Honorable Roland Burris is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Born in Centralia, Illinois, on August 30, 1937, Roland Burris received his bachelor's degree in political science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1959. He then studied at the University of Hamburg, Germany, for a year before entering law school at Howard University.

Burris began his career in 1963 as a national bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department. This gave him the honor of being the first African American to examine banks in the United States. From 1964 to 1973, he served as vice president of Continental Illinois National Bank, making significant contacts in both the corporate and African American communities. Burris began his government career in 1973 as director of the Illinois Department of General Services. In 1978, with his election to the first of three terms as state comptroller, he made history as the first African American elected to state office. On November 6, 1990, Roland W. Burris was elected attorney general for the state of Illinois. At that time, the only African American ranking higher in state office was Douglas Wilder, the governor of Virginia. He served as Illinois attorney general from 1991 to 1995. In 1998, Burris unsuccessfully ran for the office of Governor of the State of Illinois.

After his public service career, Burris worked as an attorney with the Peters law firm in Chicago, where he specialized in environmental, consumer affairs and estate law. Previously, he was managing partner of the Chicago-based law firm of Jones, Ware & Grenard, one of the largest minority law firms in the country.

Burris returned to public service on December 30, 2008 when Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed him as a U.S. Senator, filling the seat formerly held by Barack Obama. On January 15, 2009, Burris was sworn in as a U.S. Senator, representing the State of Illinois.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roland Burris interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roland Burris's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roland Burris describes his childhood in Centralia, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roland Burris describes how integrating the public pool inspired his career in law and public service
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his academic success
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roland Burris recalls his political ambitions after graduating from Howard University Law School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roland Burris relates his family's history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roland Burris describes his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roland Burris discusses deaths in his family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roland Burris learns important lessons from his family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roland Burris describes housing at Southern Illinois University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roland Burris describes the strong black community in Centralia, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roland Burris describes his personality as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roland Burris explains his decision to attend Southern Illinois University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roland Burris talks about remaining active with his alma maters
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his efforts to integrate Carbondale, Illinois in the 1950s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roland Burris discusses his time as an exchange student in Hamburg, Germany
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roland Burris describes his journey to Howard University's law school in Washington, D.C.: Part I
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roland Burris describes his journey to Howard University's law school: Part II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roland Burris remembers his time as a law student at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses the advantages of attending law school at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roland Burris describes his job search following law school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roland Burris discusses his search for a job in the banking industry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roland Burris describes being undervalued at Continental Illinois National Bank
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roland Burris overcomes racism and succeeds at Continental Illinois National Bank
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roland Burris describes making political connections in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roland Burris describes his first run for political office
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roland Burris recalls racism from whites and skepticism from other black employees as he rose at Continental Bank, Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roland Burris details how he made a name for himself in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roland Burris becomes the first black man in Illinois history to be elected to a statewide office
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roland Burris continues with his story of becoming the first elected black statewide officeholder
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his various political offices in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roland Burris contemplates reasons for his political success and comments on his 1990 election as Illinois Attorney General
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roland Burris discusses his skills at dealing with people as comptroller for the state of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roland Burris talks about taking over the office of Illinois Comptroller
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roland Burris analyzes his significance as the first black Illinois Comptroller
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses his work as Attorney General of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roland Burris recalls his runs for governor of Illinois and mayor of Chicago
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roland Burris talks about his community and legal work in 2000
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roland Burris talks about African American political power
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roland Burris discusses Illinois's black politicians
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Roland Burris remembers figures who influenced his success
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses his wife and her educational and career pursuits
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Roland Burris considers his sense of direction in life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his children's accomplishments
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Roland Burris considers his legacy