Remembering Gus Savage (1925–2015)

Augustus Alexander (Gus) Savage, prominent Chicago civil rights advocate, newspaper editor/publisher and Democratic U.S. Congressman died last weekend. He was 90.

He and Harold Washington were friends for decades. Savage managed Washington’s unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 1977. Three years later, both were elected for the first time to the U.S. Congress.

In the first of the two Media Burn archival video excerpts, Savage tells his priorities as a Congressman on his first day at the Capitol in 1980. The footage is an outtake from Rostenkowski, shot by Skip Blumberg and produced by Tom Weinberg. The second excerpt documents a rally at the First Baptist Church during his campaign for reelection in 1992, after he had served six terms in Congress. This is another example of previously unseen and unused footage from our collection. It was shot by Andrew Jones for THE 90’s Election Special.

He was challenged (and defeated) by Mel Reynolds. Savage claimed that major funding for Reynolds’ campaign came from “Racist Jews.” Savage opposed U.S. support of Israel and the war in Vietnam. He praised the Nation of Islam, and was a life-long outspoken advocate of equal rights and opportunities.

His career was tainted by an accusation of sexual abuse by a Peace Corps volunteer when he was on an official tour of Zaire in 1989. The House Committee on Ethics issued a 19-page report expressing official disapproval of Savage, without penalty or sanctions.

See the camera original footage from the 1980 interview and the 1992 rally at



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