In 1983, Harold Washington became Chicago’s first black mayor. Washington’s emergence as a political leader was no fluke, but rather, a direct result of the city’s racial tensions and the black community’s struggle for political power and representation. Washington’s roots were deep in the south side, where he grew up and later lived after serving in the U.S. Army and in the Illinois and U.S. House of Representatives. He won the ‘83 Democratic mayoral primary with more than 80 percent of the city’s black vote.
May marks the anniversary of Washington’s second inauguration. To mark that milestone, we consider the parallels between the political climate in Chicago during the 1983 mayoral election and the political climate of today.
This multimedia story features photographs from the Sun-Times archive intercut with excerpts from Chicago Politics: A Theatre of Power (1987) a Super-8mm film by Bill Stamets archived at Media Burn.