Ten years after Harold Washington
People's Tribune, Vol.24 no.11, November 1997
Ten years have passed since we last saw Harold Washington, the great reform mayor of Chicago, who died suddenly on November 25, 1987. He was elected in 1983, carried into City Hall by the greatest grassroots political movement Chicago had ever seen. He was the real thing.
Ten dramatic years after 1987, the tragic meaning of Mayor Washington's passing for Chicago is plain for all to see -- especially in the neighborhoods where the struggle to survive is cruelest. The polarization of wealth and poverty is more extreme than ever. The most basic public services are vanishing in the poorest parts of Chicago.
Harold Washington the man is gone. Yet Harold Washington lives on within all conscious fighters for change. We who are still here and who cherish Harold Washington must assess what reform means in 1997. It means replacing poverty with abundance, opening all the wonders and treasures of this great city to all of its people and not just the privileged few. To mark the anniversary of the passing of Harold Washington, we print below excerpts from the statement on Washington's death which appeared on the front page of the People's Tribune 10 years ago.
The fight has just begun
We've had a taste of our own power. For a few years we saw that we could and did count for something. We like the feeling and we are afraid we're going to lose it.
The sense that we counted -- would be listened to -- meant more than the actual accomplishments of the past five years.
Harold Washington is gone. Every great leader someday leaves the people. Real leaders prepare the people to carry on. We, the people of Chicago, are more prepared, more alert than ever before. We can thank Harold for re-establishing our sense of worth and dignity. We can and must carry on. That is what Harold Washington is all about.
Those of us who intend to carry on must hold close to the lessons we have learned.
We must be ready to take to the streets to enforce our will and demands.
We will never again allow our enemies to choose our leaders.
We must organize around issues -- not personalities.
We must guard the unity that Harold created and reject any effort to undo it.
This article originated in the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE (Online Edition), Vol. 24 No. 11/ November, 1997; P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.mcs.com/~jdav/league.html Feel free to reproduce and use unless marked as copyrighted. The PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE depends on donations from its readers.