By Susan Stephens
Saturday, March 31 was a pretty magical day for Chuck Jefferson — dozens of his friends and colleagues gathered to honor the former state representative from Rockford, a library was named after him, and it was his birthday.
Jefferson, a Democrat, represented the 67th district from 2001 until his retirement in 2014. Before that, he was a long-time member of the Winnebago County Board.
He’s also been a strong supporter of the Booker Washington Center, a historic African-American community center on Rockford’s southwest side.
Booker’s African American Resource Center decided to honor the city’s first black state representative by naming its new library after him. The one-room library within the center’s social services building features African American literature, histories, collections, periodicals, and archives. The Chuck Jefferson Library will be open Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The center hopes to find some dedicated volunteers so it can expand its hours in the future.
Jefferson received two honorary keys to the city during Saturday’s ceremony — one from Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and one from former mayor (and Tom’s father) John McNamara. Dignitaries in attendance included current 67th district Rep. Litesa Wallace and the Democratic nominee for that seat Maurice West.
Coleen Martin Williams read the poem the organizing committee asked her to write for the event, called “The Man From Waco,” named for Jefferson’s hometown in Texas.
Photo, Susan Stephens