2.06.2009

Black History Month - Harold Washington



In case you forgot (I did), February is black history month and to help celebrate I wanted to share with you a little information about this guy Harold Washington. The first time I came across Mr. Washington was below ground, while walking out of a CTA stop. As I walked, I came across a mural of Chicago's past mayors. There were the obvious lot of old white dudes, the old Mayor Daley, a woman (!), and this African American guy. I said to myself, "What? When did Chicago have an African American mayor?" I later realized his name was Harold Washington, which this building is named after.



I didn't really put it all together until I heard this incredible story on This American Life a while back during the run up to the 2008 elections. Fortunately for us they archive all of their episodes for FREE. Go listen to it when you have an hour, it will be one of the best hours you've spent in a long time (and if you have two hours, listen to any other episode you find, this show has the potential to change your life). Seeing Obama win came as somewhat of a surprise to me, but in many ways it makes sense after the past eight years. Washington on the other hand was a fireball, he was single (have you ever heard of a single politician?), was up against the mayoral incumbent as well as former mayor Richard J. Daley's son (and later to become mayor himself), and ran for office in a extremely racially divided 1984 Chicago. I cannot do him justice here, so go listen to the story here you'll believe in life so much more.

7 comments:

Suzanne said...

I never miss an episode of TAL! I listen to it on my iPod all the time. That was a great episode. Thanks for sharing.

elgato065 said...

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-02-07-black-history-month_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

I read that article about ending Black History month, and I'm not sure if that would be a good thing or a bad thing.

I think it's really dumb that the article mentions a transition to saying "African-American" though, because it's such an ignorant term and I don't know of anyone that actually prefers it. I have a couple of black friends from Haiti and one from Antigua, neither of which are in Africa. But I'm still supposed to call them African-Americans to be politically correct? I should probably tell them to call me Italian-American.

israel said...

I heard that story as well...I enjoy reading a post throughband attempting to guess who posted before looking at the name.

danny said...

I agree in some ways. It would be great if we could learn American history in our schools as a full telling of American history where we wouldn't need a month to celebrate, educate, and remember the importance that African Americans have had in making this country. But at this point it's just not a reality and while we've come a long way since it was started in 1926 there's still a long ways to go (much like why I believe we should still have some forms of affirmative action). We've come a long way, but there's still so much more to do.

And yes, African American is strange, I just use that because it seems as though it's the most acceptable thing to say these days. And while it is silly, your Caribbean friends are probably just as much African American as most Afro Americans living in the States.

elgato065 said...

Yeah, technically they do have ancestors from Africa, even if they are more closely tied to the Carribean.

Yet, they haven't changed it to African-American History Month. The title of the article, as well as the pervasive use of the term "black" within the article, contradicts the statement that we've shifted from black to African American. The journalist kind of shoots himself in the foot there.

Anonymous said...

I don't have time right now - but dang - he must have been pretty good to have had such a great building named for him.....

Sarah-Ji said...

Dude, I am old enough that I remember discussing the mayoral elections w/ my friend Nora on the way to tumbling class @ Pottawatomie Park, and expressing my support for Harold Washington. I think I was around 10 at the time. He truly was bigger than life.