Remembering Harold: Two decades after death

It has been 21 years since former Mayor Harold Washington was found dead, slumped over his desk at City Hall. He was 65.

It has been 21 years since former Mayor Harold Washington was found dead, slumped over his desk at City Hall.

He was 65.

Washington was Chicago’s first Black mayor, following an election where Black civic, faith, business and other leaders galvanized the Black community and other groups around the city to help Washington lay claim to the historic win.

Washington beat then-incumbent Mayor Jayne Byrne and then- State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley in the February 1983 primary and Republican Bernard Epton in the general election two months later.

His time at the helm of the city was contentious, with a block of 29 aldermen, lead by Aldermen Edward Vrdolyak and Ed Burke, set to vehemently challenge Washington and his 21 aldermanic supporters.

Washington was a U.S. Congressmen, representing the 1st Congressional District, before being elected mayor.

It was shortly after the start of his second term that Washington died. An autopsy ruled that he had suffered a heart attack.

A number of city institutions have been posthumously named after the mayor, including the Harold Washington Library, Harold Washington College and the Harold Washington Cultural Center located in Bronzeville.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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