Cecil A. Partee papers, 1936-1992
- TitleCecil A. Partee papers MSPart97
- PublisherSpecial Collections
- RepositorySpecial Collections
- Physical Description13.0 Linear feet
- AbstractCecil Armillo Partee (1921-1994) was an African-American lawyer and politician who served in a variety of public service roles in Illinois and Chicago.Cecil Armillo Partee (1921-1994) was an African-American lawyer and politician who served in a variety of public service roles in Illinois and Chicago. The Cecil A. Partee Papers reflect his professional work as the State's Attorney for Cook County, as City Treasurer for Chicago, and elements of his private law practice and Illinois General Assembly career.
- OriginationPartee, Cecil A., b. 1921
Cecil Armillo Partee (1921-1994) was an African-American lawyer and politician who served in a variety of public service roles in Illinois and Chicago. His career record reflects many firsts as an African-American and he affected policy to improve opportunities for both African-Americans and other minorities.
Born on April 10, 1921 in Blytheville, Arkansas, Partee was raised as an only child in a middle-class family in a segregated society. His father was a cotton classifier and his mother was a teacher in the Arkansas segregated school system. Unable to attend college in his home state due to his skin color, Partee accepted Arkansas' offer to pay for a four-year degree at Tennessee State University. There he served as a member of the debate team and an editor of the student newspaper, and as a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity on campus.
After graduation in 1944, Partee came to Chicago to attend law school at Northwestern University. He graduated in 1946 with his law degree and went to work in the law offices of Joseph Clayton, after which he served as an assistant state's attorney. In 1956, he was first elected to the Illinois General Assembly, where he served until 1976. He held several leadership roles during his legislative tenure, including service as Chairman of the House Elections Committee, President pro-tempore, majority leader and, since reconstruction, the first African-American president of the senate.
In 1976, Partee earned the nomination of the Democratic Party for the position of Attorney General, the first African-American to do so in Illinois. He went on to lose the election, afterward serving as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services of Chicago. In 1979, he was elected city treasurer, a position he held until Richard M. Daley appointed him to the position of Cook County State's Attorney upon Daley's own mayoral election in 1989. Partee was defeated when he ran for that office in the following election cycle of 1990.
Partee married his wife Paris in 1955. Together they had two daughters, Paris and Cecile. He was an avid golfer, won numerous awards, and received three honorary doctoral degrees. He died of lung cancer in 1994.
The Cecil A. Partee Papers reflect his professional work as the State's Attorney for Cook County, as City Treasurer for Chicago, and elements of his private law practice and Illinois General Assembly career. The collection primarily includes memos, correspondence, clippings, literature, photos, awards, and memorabilia.
Materials in this collection were donated in 1997 by Charlene Endecavage acting as a representative of the defunct Montay College. Prior to their closing, Montay College held the collection in the Cecil Partee Center for Racial and Ethnic Studies. In 2004, the Cataloguer arranged the materials into three series, reflecting the professional aspects of Partee's life.
Cecil A. Partee papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago
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- Chicago (Ill.). Office of the City Treasurer.
- Democratic Party (U.S.).
- Illinois. Attorney General's Office.
- Partee, Cecil A., b. 1921 -- Archives
- Speck, Richard, 1941-
- Chicago African American History.
- Chicago Political and Civic Life.