Naming Champaign Post Office For Burgess Moves Forward
By The Associated Press, with addtional reporting from Illinois Public Media
A measure has moved forward in the U.S. Senate to name a Champaign post office after a black World War II veteran who was also the county's first African-American elected official.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and government Affairs passed the measure honoring James R. Burgess Jr. on Wednesday.
It would officially name the Campustown Post Office at 302 East Green St. in Champaign the "James R. Burgess Jr. Post Office Building.'' The measure now goes to the full U.S. Senate for consideration.
"The measure will not only honor Mr. Burgess' distinguished record of service, but also help ensure that his trailblazing accomplishments continue to inspire future generations of Illinoisans." said Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, in a statement.
Burgess was a leader of the 761st Tank Battalion. The battalion was the first African-American armored unit to enter battle in World War II.
"I'm pleased that we've moved one step closer to honoring James R. Burgess," said Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville.) "Since James' passing in 1997, his son, Steve, and many others in Champaign-Urbana have looked for ways to commemorate the achievements in his life. Naming this building after him is but a small token of our gratitude for his service and I am hopeful that the House will soon follow suit and help Steve complete the journey he started years ago."
Burgess was a public servant in other sectors too. He was elected Champaign County State's Attorney in 1972. Burgess also was appointed as a U.S. Attorney for a large section of Illinois.