By Chinta Strausberg
Hundreds attended the Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee at the Apostolic Church of God where several Blacks were honored for their role in the election of Washington as Chicago’s first African American mayor.
The all day meeting was held at the Apostolic Church of God, 6320 South Dorchester Avenue, headed by Dr. Byron T. Brazier. Merri Dee, former WGN-TV commentator, was the Mistress of Ceremony.
They remembered the historic political battle cry of “Come Alive October 5” that helped catapult Washington into office, and they honored those key to Washington’s success.
One of them was Howard C. Medley, president/CEO of the Medley Movers & Storage, who was a major figure in the making of Chicago’s first Black mayor not just with his money but in carrying out Washington’s community and business assignments. He was known as the “go-to-guy” by the mayor’s supporters.
Just before he died, Mayor Washington had named Medley, a CTA commissioner, chairman of that powerful agency.
Rep. Danny K. Davis presented an award to a teary-eyed Medley who said, “We got a lot done.” And together they worked out what was best for the city of Chicago.
Also honored was Ed Gardner, former president/CEO of Soft Sheen products, who was represented by his daughter, Terri Gardner. It was Emma Young, who worked for Gardner, who came up with the popular “Come Alive October 5” slogan.
Terri Gardner, who now works on Native American issues, received a round of applause when she said, “We are stolen people on stolen land.” She said her father was proud to have been a part of the election of Washington and revealed how they had hung banners for Washington on the streets of Chicago that city officials found out after the election was held.
Also honored was professor and historian Timuel Black who was very active in the Washington campaign.
Attorney Tom Todd also spoke giving the group a history lesson on life as a Black man in America including how when African Americans got the right to vote many did not understand the power it meant to their life.
Wendell Mosley, 38, from the DuSable Museum also spoke. He praised Josie Childs, the chairperson of the Washington Legacy Committee, for keeping the memory of Washington alive.
Peggy Montes chaired a panel of women who worked in the Washington administration. She, Sharon Gist Gilliam, Sally Johnson, Jane Ramsey, former Ald. Helen Schiller and Judy Walker, praised Washington for appointing more women to high-level positions than any mayor in the history of Chicago.
Acclaimed rapper El Che Rhymefest called for unity.