25 years later, Mayor Harold Washington's legacy lives on

November 26, 2012 5:33:06 AM PST
Twenty-five years ago, Chicago's only African American mayor died in his office inside of City Hall.

Harold Washington left behind quite a legacy that lives on very strongly today.

His personality was larger than life.

When he was nominated as mayor of Chicago, he made history.

He won the hearts of citizens, and eventually the alderman and city council members.

Washington always said Chicago needed reform. He appointed minorities to city positions, created an ethics commission, and developed city neighborhoods.

Voters liked what they saw and re-elected Washington in 1987.

But he only served seven months in City Hall. Mayor Washington suffered a deadly heart attack in his office on the morning of November 25.

Alton Miller was his press secretary.

"I suddenly heard this (pounds on table) and I looked up and it was his cheek on the desk," Miller said.

Afterwards, thousands of people came to pay their respects to their beloved mayor inside City Hall.

Washington brought a lot of political knowledge to the Mayor's office.

Not only was he a lawyer, but he served in Congress and in State legislature.

In the book "Harold, Photographs From the Harold Washington Years," photojournalist Marc Pokempner captured what happened behind closed doors.

"He was also an intellectual workaholic and knew everything about city government so following him on the campaign trail was like a graduate course on urban civics," Pokempner said.

Former Chicago television reporter Peter Nolan covered Washington's campaign and wrote a book about his experiences:

"I knew one lawyer who was in his office, they were trying to get some city business, something to do with O'Hare Airport," said Nolan. "He said Harold charmed everyone in the room and made me look like $1 million to my client those were the little inside things that I don't think the general public knew about."


Load Comments