Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SR0351
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Full Text of SR0351  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois Senate are saddened
3to learn of the death of James Lee Burnett Jr., Ph.D. of
4Sartell, Minnesota and formally of Champaign, who passed away
5on April 22, 2021; and
6    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett was born to Dr. Evelyn Burnett
7Underwood (Bishop King James) and James Lee Burnett Sr. in
8Champaign on September 1, 1959; he was a student at University
9High Lab School where he excelled in both athletics and
10academia; after high school, he attended Wilberforce
11University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business
12Administration in 1981; he earned a Bachelor of Science from
13Southwest Minnesota State University in Sociology/Anthropology
14in 1996; he went on to earn two masters' degrees in 2002 and
152005 from Minnesota State University, Mankato; he continued
16his education at South Dakota State University where he was
17awarded a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology in 2011; and
18    WHEREAS, After graduating college, Dr. James Burnett
19worked as a corrections officer in Michigan for 10 years; he
20was then a professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato
21and continued on this path to Idaho State University and
22Urbana University; throughout his life, he taught and mentored
23many students for academic and personal development, created



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1peer educator programs, and integrated active learning and
2service learning into his classes; he designed
3trauma-informed, academic at-risk youth mentoring intervention
4programs, such as the Bannock County Idaho and Idaho State
5University Partnership, where students served as mentors to
6youth involved in the criminal justice system; and
7    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett was a sociocultural ecologist
8whose research and service agenda examined and promoted the
9maintenance of a balance between human adaptation and the
10physical environment; his main areas of research were critical
11criminology, race ethnicity and social justice, and urban and
12rural sociology; and
13    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett's life experiences led him to
14find his true calling and purpose as a probation officer for
15the Mental Health Court; he specialized in intervening for
16clients in the court system and diverting them to treatment;
17his areas of specialization were client-centered and involved
18coordinating and providing intensive supervision and a broad
19range of rehabilitative and case management services within
20the Mental Health Court continuum; and
21    WHEREAS, In addition, Dr. Burnett previously worked as a
22domestic violence facilitator, with the Catholic Charities
23Hope Community Support Program in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, and



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1as a teaching substitute for St. Cloud School District 742;
3    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett authored over 50 research
4articles, books, and presentations; one of his biggest
5accomplishments was writing and publishing his book Hood II
6Hood: Helping Prisoners Transition to Freedom; and
7    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett was an associate minister at
8New Free Will Baptist Church where over the years he served the
9youth locally, regionally, and nationally with Pastor and
10General Bishop King Underwood; he was a proud member of the 4th
11Judicial District Racial Equity Committee; in 2016, he was
12appointed by Stearns County Community Corrections to serve as
13an Advisory Board Member in Saint Cloud, Minnesota; as a
14certified sociological practitioner, he was a member of the
15Association of Applied and Clinical Sociologists (2011); and
16    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett's unrelenting dedication to the
17community resulted in numerous awards and recognitions,
18including the NAACP Appreciation Award in 2011; he was proud
19to be honored at the 5th Annual African Mental Health Summit in
20recognition of exemplary scholarship in translational science
21while conducting, presenting, and publishing culturally
22responsive research (2014-2019) as a postdoctoral research
23trainee at the University of Minnesota, Crookston; he received



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1many invitations for speaking engagements, such as being
2chosen as the keynote speaker at Metropolitan State University
3in St. Paul, Minnesota during their Race and Social Justice
4Conference; and
5    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett's passion and love for his
6family was, above-all, most important to him; and
7    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett was preceded in death by his
8twins, James Michael Burnett and Jasmine Marie Burnett; and
9    WHEREAS, Dr. James Burnett was survived by his wife, Jody
10Burnett (Varing); his children, Robbie Rochelle Burnett, James
11Lee Chad Burnett III (Gwynder), Tobias Alexander Wheeler,
12DaNeya Martina Burnett, DaNaya Michelle Burnett, Anika Dakota
13Pendleton-Burnett, Ayanna Rochelle Taylor, Anthony Dale
14Burnett, Trevor Jodeci Burnett, and Kendra Christine Burnett,
15as well as Matthew Ryan Wheeler, Duane Michael Carter, and
16Rachel Renee Nickerson; his grandchildren, Azai, King Tashis,
17James IV, Tashi, Kyue', Makylah, and DeAndre; his
18great-grandchildren, Novah and D'Anthoni; and his siblings,
19Robbin Smith, Minister Ted Burnett (Tuere), Reverend Timothy
20Burnett (Cynthia), Angela R. Patterson (B. Kirk), and Pastor
21Herbert D. Burnett (Stephanie), as well as Jeff Underwood
22(Belinda), Greg Underwood (Priscilla), Janet Ross (Ferron),
23Prophetess Judy Grant, and King J. Underwood Jr.; therefore,



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1be it
3ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we mourn the passing of
4James Lee Burnett Jr., Ph.D. and extend our sincere
5condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew and loved
6him; and be it further
7    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
8presented to the family of Dr. James Burnett as an expression
9of our deepest sympathy.