10 Things You Didn't Know About Roland Burris

Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich named Roland Burris as Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.

Roland Burris, the former Illinois Attorney General chosen by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the U. S. Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama, speaks to the media as he prepares to catch a flight to Washington, D.C. at Midway Airport in Chicago.

Roland Burris, former Illinois Attorney General

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1. Roland Wallace Burris was born Aug. 3, 1937, in Centralia, Ill., to Earl and Emma Burris. He was the youngest of three children.

2. In the 1950s, Earl Burris led a drive to integrate the local municipal swimming pool. On Memorial Day in 1953, Roland Burris, at the age of 15, became the first African-American to swim in the pool.

3. Burris graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1959 with a degree in political science. He earned his law degree from Howard University in 1963.

4. Burris was named to a state budget post in the early 1970s by Illinois Gov. Dan Walker, who was later convicted of bank fraud, perjury, and misapplication of funds.

5. In 1978, Burris was elected comptroller, making him the first African-American to hold statewide office in Illinois. He would go on to serve three terms as comptroller and one term as attorney general.

6. While attorney general, Burris drew criticism when he refused to acknowledge error in the controversial murder conviction of Rolando Cruz, who was later exonerated of the 1983 murder of a 10-year-old girl.

7. Burris failed three times in bids for Illinois governor, including a 2002 primary loss to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

8. Burris once performed as Muhammad Ali in a skit before journalists, lobbyists, and politicians at a banquet in Springfield, capital of Illinois. Wearing shorts and boxing gloves, he repeated one of Ali's famous lines: "I am the greatest."

9. Burris has erected a granite mausoleum for himself in Chicago's Oak Woods Cemetery. Carved under the words "Trail Blazer" is a long list of Burris's accomplishments.

10. Burris is married to Berlean Miller. They have two children, Rolanda and Roland II.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, New York Times, Time