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Chicago’s First Black Mayor Paves the Way

“‘What about a black person becoming mayor?’ And the conversation stops as if I said, ‘What if we are invaded by martians tomorrow?’” -Veteran Chicago journalist Monroe Anderson, who wrote a 1982 op-ed predicting the election of Chicago’s first black mayor, appearing on yesterday’s episode of In the Loop

In 1983, 29 years after our nation’s Civil Rights Movement began, the notion that anyone other than a white person could become mayor in Chicago was inconceivable. On this week’s episode of In the Loop, hosts Chris Bury and Barbara Pinto explored how the election of Chicago’s first black mayor paved the way for the nation’s first black president, who also hails from Chicago.

Harold Washington beat the odds and won in 1983, his presence taking the city by storm and racially dividing it. This Chicago Tribune article states that “…racial tensions were so high in Chicago that Republican candidate Bernard Epton, a liberal former state legislator, became the favored son in blue collar and white ethnic neighborhoods.” And according to a 2012 Newsweek/Daily Beast poll, President Obama has more recently racially divided the country. What is the connection? 

Tune in this Sunday April 14 at 6:30 p.m. to learn more about this historic election during the encore presentation of In the Loop. Hear perspectives from author Peter Nolan and political consultant David Axelrod about how Washington made racial history in the Second City, and also made diversity in U.S. politics more socially acceptable. And be sure to explore the city’s celebration of Harold Washington’s legacy, beginning today. Harold Washington Day is this Monday, April 15.

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    Native Chicagoan and WYCC Intern Theresa Campagna recaps yesterday’s episode of In the Loop, and gives us some...
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