By A.L. Smith – Contributing Writer
To many Chicagoans who loved, respected, and admired the late Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black chief executive, it’s still hard to believe that he died of a fatal heart attack the day before Thanksgiving, thirty-five (35) years ago on November 25, 1987 in his City Hall office. Had he lived, the late beloved Mayor would have turned one-hundred this year on April 15, 2022. In honor of the late Mayor Harold Washington, the Hon. Mayor Loris Lightfoot has partnered with the nonprofit Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee (MHWLC) to honor his profound life and legacy at a gala “2022 The Year of Harold” reception and program on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at the namesake Harold Washington Library, 400 South State Street in the 9th Floor Winter Garden. Event Co-Chairs include Governor J.B. Pritzker, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Rainbow PUSH Coalition founder /civil-rights activist Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
“The profound impact made by the late Harold Washington on Chicago and national politics, community engagement and voting rights protections is truly worthy of celebration and honor, particularly in these challenging, socially divisive times,” said MHWLC founder and President Josie Childs, a former Washington administration official.
Timothy C. Evans, attorney, former alderman, late Mayor Washington’s floor leader, and the current Chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, will join a host of Chicago luminaries to receive awards in recognition of their contributions to the historic 1983 election that stunned Chicago, galvanized the nation and resulted in Harold Washington becoming Chicago’s 51st and the city’s 1st Black Mayor – and forever changing the landscape of Chicago politics.
The Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee will award the Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Lifetime Award, to these individuals because of their participation and commitment to the election of Harold Washington as Mayor of the City of Chicago in 1983 and their continued belief in the fight for social justice. The following individuals will be present to accept their awards:
Reverend Walter “Slim” Coleman, 7th Dist. Congressman Danny Davis, mega Black hair care manufacturer Soft Sheen Products Company founder Edward Gardner, 4th Dist. Congressman Jesus Garcia, former 4th Dist. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Rainbow PUSH’s Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., George E. Johnson of the Black-owned Johnson Products Company, Bronzeville Children’s Museum founder Peggy Montes, former Alderman David Orr, former Washington administration official Jane Ramsey, Renault Robinson former CPD officer & CHA Chair, retiring 1st Dist. Congressman Bobby Rush, former Alderman Helen Shiller, and Activists Rebecca Sive and Brenetta Howell-Barrett.
Awards will also be presented Posthumously in memory of:
Dr. Timuel Black, Lu & Jorga Palmer, Delores Woods, former Mayor Eugene Sawyer, and west side civic icon Nancy Jefferson
The awardees reflect Mayor Washington’s philosophy of ‘One Chicago for All,’ highlighting the committed service of a diverse multi-ethnic coalition of current and former local officials and civic, community and religious leaders.
It seems like yesterday. Even now, the pride in his achievements, as well as the painful memories surrounding the end of this historic ‘Mayoral Miracle’, which began with his monumental election on the date of April 12, 1983 remain fresh in the minds of many inter-generational activists and admirers.
This April 12th ceremony occasion will celebrate and explore the life and legacy of Mayor Washington, the city’s first African-American Mayor, featuring multi –generational speakers, a video tribute, and a youth ROTC brigade. Roosevelt University will also announce a new Scholarship named in alumni Mayor Harold Washington’s honor. The public was cordially invited to attend, and the response has been tremendous.
“The legacy of Mayor Washington remains socially and politically relevant, alive and well for today and the future,” says Josie Childs, President of the Chicago-based nonprofit MHWLC organization. “Our mission is to reignite the progressive spirit of unity and keep alive the essential purposeful philosophies of inclusion and dedicated service embodied by Mayor Washington during his life to inspire and engage future generations of change-agents.”
The Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee (MHWLC) is a 501.c.3., Chicago-based non-profit organization, comprised of diverse local civic and social advocates dedicated to preserving the memory and historical legacy of Chicago’s 1st Black Mayor. Visit www.mhwlc.com or Facebook.com/MayorHaroldWashingtonLegacyCommittee for more information. For those unable to attend, the April 12th event will be videotaped for airing in the near future.