June 21, 1947 - July 5, 2019
Archie Lawrence was born on June 21, 1947 to Charlie and Addie (Gilbert) Lawrence. Archie was raised in the Russ City neighborhood of East St. Louis, Illinois, along with his 11 siblings. Growing up in the segregated days of East St. Louis, Illinois, Archie felt the constant stings of racism and inequality. He decided at a young age that when facing any system of inequality or oppression, he would be the catalyst for change. Archie graduated from Lincoln Sr. High School in East St. Louis and went on to Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, Illinois. As a student at SIU, Archie fought for change as he vehemently protested against the Vietnam War. Ironically, after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in government from SIU Carbondale, Archie was drafted into the United States Army for the Vietnam War. Following his service in the Army, Archie went on to earn a Juris Doctorate Degree from St. Louis University Law School, believing that as an attorney, he could be of more impact. Archie then moved to Springfield, Illinois to commence his law career. As an attorney, Archie worked for the Internal Revenue Service and as a State’s Attorney for the State of Illinois in the Attorney General’s Office. Though Archie worked for the government, he saw a need for legal services in the community. Therefore, throughout his career, Archie gave free legal advice and services to many. In the community, Archie was indeed a change agent. As the President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Archie was named one of the plaintiffs in the Springfield, Illinois voting rights lawsuit of 1980. The lawsuit claimed that the structure of Springfield’s government resulted in the denial of voting rights based on race. As a result of this lawsuit, Springfield went to a Mayor-Aldermanic form of government, which resulted in better representation for the Black community. Archie was President of the NAACP for two terms and also the legal redress chairman for several terms. Under Archie’s second term as NAACP President, he participated in building a commemorative statue of the 1908 Race Riots of Springfield, IL. He was also awarded the Webster Plaque Award in 2005 and the Medgar Evers Award in 2016 from the NAACP. Archie’s service in the community spread far and wide. Representing District 20, he served on the Sangamon County Board from 1984 to 1990. Archie mentored youth at McClendon Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School. He was a moderator and reader for the Jefferson Middle School Black History Program and also conducted moot trials with youth in District 186. Archie was an instructor for the University of Illinois Principal Scholars Program and a board member for the Springfield Ball Charter School. He was a Life Member of the NAACP, member of the Otis B. Duncan American Legion Post 809, and he proudly served with the Frontiers International Organization for more than two decades. Seeing a need for the stories of Blacks to be told, Archie was a founder and once Vice President of the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum. Archie also formerly served as a board member of the Illinois Innocence Project and as Legal Counsel for the Emma L. Wilson King Foundation, Inc. A man of great faith, Archie was an active member at Union Baptist Church. He served as a trustee, Sunday School Teacher and enjoyed playing the drums with the choir. Finally, Archie was a proud “Omega Man,” having been a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. for 51 years. Though Archie was an active community man, his greatest joy was his family. He sustained a loving relationship with his wife, Ernestine, for almost 43 years. Together they raised three daughters, ChieStine, Crystal and Candace. While growing up, Archie was involved in all of his daughters’ activities. Not only did he help them with their homework and papers, but he was active in their extracurricular programs as well. Archie supported their high school bands by being a chaperone on their local and out of state trips. In addition, Archie was a grandfather who delighted in his grandchildren. He enjoyed his weekly vocabulary word review with his eldest grandchild, Joshua. Makayla, his eldest granddaughter, named Archie her “birthday twin,” because their birthdays are one day apart, both of them are left-handed and they both love to talk. He looked forward to reading stories to his youngest grandbaby, Madison. In July 2007, Archie was the recipient of the Real Fathers, Real Men Award given by the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Archie transitioned on July 5, 2019 after a courageous battle with cancer. He is preceded in death by his parents, Charlie and Addie (Gilbert) Lawrence; his sister, Mildred Lane and his brother, James Lawrence. Archie leaves behind his wife, Ernestine; three children, ChieStine, Crystal and Candace Howell (John); sisters, Alma Jackson (James), JoAnn Statum (Joseph), Janice Jennings, Charlene Mason, Helen Victoria Fields (Ross) and Charlotte Petty (Sylvester); brothers, Terry Lawrence (Shirley), Larry G. Lawrence, Darnell Lawrence and Frederick Lawrence; and a host of other relatives and friends.
Archie Lawrence was born on June 21, 1947 to Charlie and Addie (Gilbert) Lawrence. Archie was raised in the Russ City neighborhood of East St. Louis, Illinois, along with his 11 siblings. Growing up in the segregated days of East St. Louis,... View Obituary & Service Information
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