Today, thanks to YouTube, the world finally witnessed the birth of April the Giraffe’s calf live on the Internet.
Unless you are from Chicago, and even if you are, you may not be aware that April 15th is also the birthdate of another famous African-American. I know April the Giraffe was born in New York but doesn’t mean that as a giraffe she still isn’t an African-American.
Today, April 15, 2017, would have been the 95th birthday of Chicago’s 41st Mayor, Harold Lee Washington. Mayor Washington was born on April 15, 1922 to Roy Washington and Bertha Jones on the south side of Chicago.
Roy Washington was one of the first precinct captains in the city and a Methodist Minister. Bertha was from a small, rural Illinois town and had come to Chicago to become a singer.
Mayor Washington grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood and was in the first graduating class of DuSable High School. He later went on to receive his B.A. degree from Roosevelt University and received his law degree from Northwestern University being the only African-American student in his class.
Mayor Washington went on to be a member of the Illinois House and Senate and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1980 to 1983.
In 1983, after a record number of over 100,000 new voter registrations, Mayor Washington won the Chicago Mayoral Primary against Richard M. Daley and incumbent Mayor Jane Byrne with 37% of the vote.
Washington was an outspoken opponent to the Chicago political machine and high ranking members of the Democratic Party supported the Republican candidate, Bernard Epton.
It was a close race but Washington was elected Mayor of Chicago on April 12, 1983 by a 3.7% margin.
His time in office was marked by huge battles with the Chicago City Council deemed, “The Council Wars”.
Despite that, he was re-elected Mayor on April 7, 1987 with an 11.8% margin.
Just when things started moving in the right political direction for Mayor Washington, tragedy struck on the morning of November 25, 1987. Chicago paramedics were called to the Mayor’s office. Washington had suffered a major heart attack and was later pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Then vice mayor and current Cook County Clerk, David Orr, became the interim mayor until Eugene Sawyer, Jr. was appointed to finish Washington’s term.
Mayor Harold Washington was a huge supporter of a central Chicago Public Library and was instrumental in the funding process of the main branch building that currently shares his name. The building opened to the public in October of 1991 and currently houses the Harold Washington Archives as well as the papers of his successor, Eugene Sawyer, Jr.
Giraffe naming contest?
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