Chicago Politician Bobbie L. Steele Releases Autobiography

Friday, 02 March 2012 16:38 Written by  Erica Lindsay

“It’s very easy in February, during Black History Month, to recycle the same names year after year, but there are plenty of people who have stood on the shoulders of the forerunners, and they are making history,” says Bobbie Steele, former commissioner of Chicago’s Cook County.

To honor history makers past and present, Bobbie decidedly released her autobiography, Women of Steele: A Personal and Political Journal, in time for Women’s History Month.

“My hope for the book is that it will help us to move to a new level in our thought process, and that is to be inclusive of current history makers, not waiting until they are dead to start giving them credit,” she says.

Women of Steele chronicles Bobbie Steele’s experiences with racism, sexism, and her political struggle to fight for her community. A major player in the Harold Washington mayoral campaign, Bobbie avidly believes in politics for the people, by the people.

“Until the advent of Harold Washington, there were very few African Americans who were included in the political realm. You just could not penetrate the system,” she recalls. “I wrote my book because I think that that history needs to be told in the voice of the person who experienced penetrating the system.”

The former commissioner details her life growing up on a farm in Mississippi as a child of a former sharecropper. She experienced several forms of racism, encouraging her to persevere at an early age. After attending college at Alabama A&M University, Steele moved to Chicago with family members to earn money. In Chicago, she quickly became involved as a political volunteer. Although encouraged to begin a political career of her own, she actively maintained her role as a volunteer, helping to promote the campaigns of politicians she passionately supported. Steele simultaneously worked as a teacher, wife and mother of six children. As her family grew older, Bobbie successfully pursued a political career of her own.

Her autobiography expounds upon her disbelief that few politicians existed in her own neighborhood. Bobbie took matters into her own hands when she joined the political world as a representative for the North Lawndale Community, where she still resides after over 50 years. She openly experienced hardships and criticisms throughout her career, which inspired her to write her political journal, in order to tell her own story.

“I want readers to know that you can dream big, work hard and you can make it to the goal that you set for yourself,” she says. “In achieving that goal, you are going to experience some hardships, some setbacks.”

Regardless of the difficulties she faced, Bobbie believes her hard work was well worth it. She hopes to encourage young people the way that her forerunners inspired her.

“There is a message I would like to convey to the people of this generation: Don’t give up and don’t make excuses,” she advises. “You are who you are. Be comfortable in your own skin.”

Her book discusses the need for her to develop deep skin as the first female president for the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Little by little, Bobbie was able to accomplish everything she set out to do during her short term as president, despite some setbacks.

“Success by the inch is a cinch and it’s hard by the yard” is Bobbie’s constant reminder to herself. “Learning is a lifelong journey. No matter how long you live, you never stop learning.”

Now a retired teacher of 26 years and politician of 24 years, Bobbie is actively involved in over five organizations, including as a golden member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is also actively promoting her book across the country. All of the proceeds from the book go to the Women of Steele Foundation (WOSF) to sponsor a scholarship for high school graduates who are interested in community development, environment protection, and women’s issues. Women of Steele: A Personal and Political Journal is available at,,, and



Erica Lindsay

Erica Lindsay

Erica Jai Lindsay obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production from Howard University. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Journalism at DePaul University. In addition to writing for GMO, Erica works as a freelancer.

She can be contacted at