Judge William Sylvester White was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 27, 1914. He attended law school at the University of Chicago after graduating from Hyde Park High School. Upon graduation, he was hired as the assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, where he tried a myriad of cases and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. After fifteen years at this position, he became assistant state's attorney for Cook County.
Interested in becoming a judge, White involved himself in local politics, and his stellar performance earned him three separate appointments between 1961 and 1964. In 1972, White was honored by the Cook County Bar Association as Judge of the Year. In 1990, he began his tenure as a Juvenile Court justice and his expertise in this area garnered him several awards and honors over the years. In additions to these credits, White has also authored and co-authored several articles.
Prior to his judicial career White joined the United States Navy in 1943. White became one of the Navy’s first commissioned African American officers in March of 1944, along with twelve other African American men. These men were later known as the “Golden Thirteen.” Although nearly one hundred thousand African Americans were enlisted in the Navy, none were considered officers until this date.
White passed away on February 16, 2004.
University of Chicago
Hyde Park Academy High School
Emmett Louis Till Math & Science Academy
Ice Cream (Chocolate)
Juvenile court judge and military officer The Honorable William Sylvester White (1914 - 2004 ) was one of the first African American officers in the United States Navy, known as the "Golden Thirteen." In the 1960s, White became a judge in Chicago, and by 1990, he began his tenure as a Juvenile Court justice.
Northern District of Illinois
Cook County States Attorney's Office
Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William White interview
Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William White's favorites
Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William White describes his mother's background
Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William White describes his father's background
Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William White describes his parents' educational backgrounds
Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William White recalls a racist encounter from his youth
Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William White shares memories of his family life
Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William White discusses his early school life
Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William White describes himself as a young person
Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William White remembers his youth in Chicago, Illinois
Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William White recalls summers at the Idlewild resort, Idlewild, Michigan
Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William White shares memories of the Chicago of his youth
Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William White recalls his undergraduate and law school years
Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William White discusses early occupational changes
Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William White reviews the development of his career
Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William White details his time in the U.S. Attorney's Office
Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William White recalls being drafted by the U.S. military
Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William White details his experiences in the U.S. Navy as part of the Golden Thirteen
Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William White details his career appointments
Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William White details his experiences as a criminal court judge
Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William White describes his experiences as a juvenile court judge
Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William White evaluates careers in law
Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William White considers issues facing the African American community
Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William White remembers inspirational figures
Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William White describes how he'd like to be remembered