Washington For Chicago

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Text on Button Harold Washington For Chicago Union bug
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White text and lines on blue background.

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Harold Washington was an American politician and the first African American mayor of Chicago, serving from 1983-87. He served as a state legislator and civil rights advocate. During his second term in Congress, the African American community, dissatisfied with incumbent Mayor Jane Byrne, encouraged him to enter. Washington agreed to run if his supports could raise $1 million and register 50,000 new voters. When both these goals were easily surpassed, Washington began his campaign that led to his election on April 12, 1983. Washington went on to forge a citywide coalition to unite the disparate communities around a common goal of inclusion and reform. In the general election, Washington narrowly defeated Bernard Epton in a record voter turnout. Washington was initially unable to implement his program during his first term due to opposition from City Council, but later gained control of the City Council. Among his accomplishments, Washington passed an ethics ordinance giving renters stronger rights, opened up the city’s budget process to public scrutiny, gave collective bargaining rights to city works, barred city departments from cooperating with federal immigration officials, and made Chicago the first “sanctuary city” in the Midwest. He was reelected in 1987 for a second term, but sadly died while in office seven months later.

The blue sunrise pictured on his campaign button served as the logo for Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign. This design helped to inspire the design for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.


Black, C. (2017, November 22). Harold Washington’s legacy provided touchstones for progressive politics. The Chicago Reporter. https://www.chicagoreporter.com/harold-washingtons-legacy-provided-touc…

Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). Harold Washington. In Britannica.com encyclopedia. Retrieved June 16, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Harold-Washington

Encyclopedia of Chicago. (n.d.). Campaign button for Harold Washington, 1983. In encyclopedia.chcagohistory.org Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 16, 2020, from http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/6360.html

Sorkin, M. (2013, April 26). Panel explores historic role of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Uchicago news. https://news.uchicago.edu/story/panel-explores-historic-role-chicago-ma…

Catalog ID PO1083