Former Illinois representative and Winnebago County board member Chuck Jefferson is known for his commitment to Rockford and the 67th District. Saturday, those close to Jefferson wanted to share their thanks. The historic Booker Washington Center opened up a new library filled with books on African-American history. They named it after Rockford’s first African-American to serve in the Illinois House of Representatives — who they say has made a large impact city-wide.
The Chuck Jefferson Library was created in an effort to reconnect residents with African-American history and heritage. Jefferson says its an honor for him to receive this kind of recognition from a center that means so much to him.
“I’ve supported Booker all the years I’ve been here in Rockford,” said Jefferson. “I think it’s a great organization, it’s a great institution. It’s good for the community, it’s good for the kids and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Faye Muhammad is one of the center’s board members and a librarian herself. She says Jefferson’s years at Booker have made a positive impact — and that naming the library after him was an easy decision.
“He supports libraries of all types,” said Muhammad. “He has been instrumental in moving bills forward to help libraries. As well as making sure we have libraries like this one to preserve our history and culture.”
Among the speakers honoring Jefferson was Jazz Keyes. When she couldn’t afford her college tuition, the then state representative granted her a scholarship to cover two years of tuition.
“Whether it’d be through monetary contributions or law making and policies or actually just walking the streets of our community, you would understand without doubt that it makes perfect sense for us to be honoring him in this way.”
Jefferson hopes the books and articles in the library can be inspiring to all the kids that come to the Booker Washington Center.
“Make sure we’re doing the right thing and educating our kids to make sure they know who they are. So they can be proud of things we’ve done as African-Americans.”
The library will open its doors on May 2nd and will be open every Wednesday from 2-7 p.m.