Jesse White closes Black History Month with celebration

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Secretary of State Jesse White honored several people who have made a huge difference in Chicago, including one woman who may have saved lives just weeks ago.

The celebration at the Thompson Center started, of course, with the Jesse White tumblers.

White closed out Black History Month by honoring Chicagoan and legendary jazz musician Ramsey Lewis with a lifetime achievement award.

"I will continue to strive and try to make you proud," Lewis said to the crowd.

Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton received the "history maker" award and spoke passionately about what it means to be the first African American to hold that position.

"I didn't have to try to fit into someone else's mold to carry out this role. I just had to be authentically me. I had to speak my own truth and tell my own story," Stratton said.

WATCH: Woman who helped homeless strives to do more

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Candice Payne helped get hotel roomsfor more than 100 homeless people when temps dropped below zero.

The newest four-star Chicagoan honored was South Side realtor Candice Payne. She spent her own money and rallied others to get 72 hotel rooms for more than 100 homeless men, women, and children during the polar vortex when subzero temperatures and bitter winds hit the city.

"I was just trying to help. And during those 5 days, I actually found a new purpose," Payne said.
Payne was presented with the humanitarian award for her efforts. It's work that she told our Cheryl Burton she wants to continue.

"Just giving them a place to stay, that's a band-aid. You know, getting them back into society and the workforce is the plan," Payne said.

Payne says she can't end homelessness, but she is going to do her part to help.

Now she's working on using container homes to serve as sleeping quarters for the homeless.

She's has her own non-profit and is working with others to make a difference.

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