April 11


Harold Washington Elected First Black Mayor Of Chicago

Harold Washington shook up traditional American Politics when he was elected Mayor of Chicago, Illinois on April 11, 1983.  His election was received with great pride and political optimism by millions of African Americans.  Washington serving as mayor from April 29, 1983 until his death of a heart attack on November 25, 1987.
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Mayor of Chicago and Congressman Harold Washington
He was born on April 15, 1922 in Chicago to Roy and Bertha Washington.  Washington entered the U.S. Army in 1942 during World War II and left the military with the rank of First Sergeant in 1945.  He graduated from Roosevelt College, now (Washington University) in 1949 with a B.A. degree.   Washington later received a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in 1952.
Harold Washington at the commissioning of USS Chicago (SSN-721) cropped
Mayor Harold Washington at the commissioning of USS Chicago
Washington was elected to the United States Congress where he served from 1981 to 1983. The election of Washington to mayor of Chicago was more than symbolic pride to millions of African Americans, but a very real bolt of optimism that African Americans were able to reach the pinnacle of political success, regardless of the obstacles that were placed in their way.  Harold Washington, the first African American mayor of Chicago, died of a heart attack on November 25, 1987 in Chicago at age 65.

Words That Matter

Harold Washington

β€œThe reason my face and my name are known all over is because of the history of the Chicago political machine and the movement that brought it down, I just happened to be there at the right time to capitalize on it.”

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