Harold Washington’s time in office was relatively brief, but he still continues to hold a memorable place in our political history, as the first African-American mayor of Chicago. Locals remember his thrilling potential as a reformer and the deadlock caused by the “Council Wars” as “the Eddies” (Vrdolyak and Burke) thwarted his every move in the city council. Washington died suddenly on November 25, 1987, shortly after beginning his second term in office.
In the clip below, filmmaker Bill Stamets captured the excitement of Washington’s first campaign for office, when the vote was split between the three Democratic candidates: incumbent Jane Byrne, then State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, and U.S. Representative Washington. We’ve cut a short version as an introduction to Stamets’ full length (and truly essential) documentary “Chicago Politics: A Theatre of Power.” Keep an eye out for a brief appearance by Studs Terkel.
A great companion piece is this collection of 1983 mayoral commercials produced by Lynn Sweet and aired on Image Union.
Reminder: Tune in to WTTW/Channel 11 on Tuesday, December 11 at 10pm for the premiere of Baseball’s Been Very, Very Good To Me: The Minnie Minoso Story.