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Harold Washington was an American politician and the first African American mayor of Chicago, serving from 1983-87. He served as a state legislator and civil rights advocate. During his second term in Congress, the African American community, dissatisfied with incumbent Mayor Jane Byrne, encouraged him to enter. Washington agreed to run if his supports could raise $1 million and register 50,000 new voters. When both these goals were easily surpassed, Washington began his campaign that would lead to his election on April 12, 1983. Washington would go on to forge a citywide coalition to unite the disparate communities around a common goal of inclusion and reform. In the general election, Washington narrowly defeated Bernard Epton in a record voter turnout. Washington was initially unable to implement his program during his first term due to opposition from City Council, but later gain control of the City Council. Among his accomplishments, Washington would pass an ethics ordinance giving renters stronger rights, opened up the city’s budget process to public scrutiny, gave collective bargaining rights to city works, barred city departments from cooperating with federal immigration officials, making Chicago the first “sanctuary city” in the Midwest. He was reelected in 1987 for a second term and would die in office seven months later.
The blue sunrise pictured on his campaign button served as the logo for Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign and would go on to help inspire the design for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Black, C. (2017, November 22). Harold Washington’s legacy provided touchstones for progressive politics. The Chicago Reporter. https://www.chicagoreporter.com/harold-washingtons-legacy-provided-touch...
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Encyclopedia of Chicago. (n.d.). Campaign button for Harold Washington, 1983. In encyclopedia.chcagohistory.org Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 16, 2020, from http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/6360.html
Sorkin, M. (2013, April 26). Panel explores historic role of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Uchicago news. https://news.uchicago.edu/story/panel-explores-historic-role-chicago-may...