Athlete, Gymnast and Politician: The Back Story, Part One


Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State

Before politics, Jesse White achieved success as a double-sport athlete at Alabama State University playing both baseball and basketball.  He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1957 and then joined the Army, becoming a paratrooper as part of the 101st Airborne Division.  He served there from 1957 – 1959.


Jesse trained and performed as a gymnast as a child and he taught gymnastics while in college.  He was approached by a supervisor while he was a teacher in the Chicago Public School system to put together a gymnastics show for children in the local community.  That was such a tremendous success that parents in the neighborhood asked him to continue the project, bringing in more children in the neighborhood to participate.  This was the first incarnation of the Jesse White Tumbling Team.


Since that time the Jesse White Tumbling Team has become world renowned.  In 2011 alone they performed over 1,500 times and have given performances for thousands in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Japan and Croatia.  The team has also been featured on television shows, national commercials and feature films.

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