Kwame Raoul was born in Chicago to Haitian-born immigrants. A lifelong resident of the Hyde Park/Kenwood area, he completed his undergraduate education at DePaul University and went on to earn a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Kwame started his legal career nearly 25 years ago as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and continued to practice as a labor and employment attorney for the City Colleges of Chicago.
In 2004, Kwame was appointed to fill the vacancy left in the 13th Legislative District by former state Senator Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate. At the state Capitol, he quickly gained the confidence of leaders to handle difficult negotiations and landmark legislation, including the abolition of the death penalty, background checks on private transfers of guns and the strongest voting rights protection in the country.
An attorney concerned both with crime victims and the rights of the accused, Kwame has consistently introduced and supported criminal justice reform legislation that makes Illinois not just tough on crime, but smart on crime. He sponsored diversion and second-chance programs, made it easier for juveniles to have their records expunged and pushed through landmark law enforcement reform, including body camera and police training standards. Most recently, he passed a criminal justice reform package aimed at reducing gun violence by cracking down on repeat offenders while making sentences for nonviolent offenders more reasonable. He has also passed bills aimed at fighting the heroin/opioid crisis. Kwame has been recognized for his work to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Kwame’s other achievements in the Senate include expanding opportunities for minority and women-owned financial service firms, helping protect student athletes from brain injuries, eliminating pension ethics loopholes and reforming workers compensation policy. He served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.