JCA welcomed keynote speaker Mr. Vincent Cornelius in honor of Black History Month

JCA was honored to welcome guest speaker Mr. Vince Cornelius ’82 to an all-school assembly on Friday, February 16, 2018 in honor of Black History Month.

Mr. Cornelius related his life story to current JCA students, and he gave credit to his mother, Lorrayne Cornelius, a Washington Junior High School teacher for 34 years.

Lorrayne left Pine Bluff, Arkansas – where Vincent was born – in 1966 after Joliet Public Schools District 86 recruited her and other black teachers from the South to add diversity to the district, Vincent said. Stepping into Washington Junior High was the first de-segregated school Lorryane had experienced.

Mr. Cornelius also related his own personal story on his high school decision choosing Joliet Catholic High School. As a resident of the East Side of Joliet, Vince was also the only African-American student in his graduating class. Vince said, “living on both sides of the river allowed me to see the humanity in people.” He credited numerous teachers and coaches, including Gordie and Mike Gillespie, for mentoring him when he wasn’t sure about staying at Joliet Catholic. He also reflected on the strong alumni connection with his JCHS classmates and fellow alums both in business and socially over the past 36 years.

Mr. Cornelius’ overall message included a family motto: “that’s a good excuse, but not as good as getting it done.” This motto has allowed Vince to accomplish extraordinary things in his career, including becoming the first person from Will County (and first African-American) to be named president of the Illinois Bar Association.

Vincent has lived a life of service and leadership to the legal profession, his church, his family, his community, and to the schools he attended. He has served diligently on Governor’s Commissions, Supreme Court Commissions, legislation committees, and university boards. He has given dozens of keynote speeches to numerous organizations, including a keynote to the Illinois Supreme Court at its judicial conference. Vincent has served the legal profession and other institutions at the highest levels. He is prepared to serve Will County as its next Circuit Court Judge, with the primary election coming up on March 20, 2018.

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