Harold Washington (1922-1987) was the first Black mayor of Chicago. More than that, he was elected by social movements that converged into a campaign to bring progressive politics to Chicago City Hall. There is no better time to launch this website than during the mayoral campaign 23 years after his death. The crisis now is whether we have forgotten the politics of Harold Washington and will be forced to elect a candidate that Harold Washington would have rejected. So, the first issue is to find out more about the politics of the Harold Washington campaign and his mayoral administration.

This website contains the collective work of Peoples College, an organization of movement activists based in Black Studies. We took the campaign seriously just as we criticized it, worked within it, and have since kept its memory alive. We have presented here digital files of our work:

  1. A video clip from a lecture he gave at the University of Illinois, September 1982 before he declared for mayor.

  2. A book that presents our analysis of his campaign (by Alkalimat and Gills)

  3. Proceedings of a conference that brought most of the movement activists together who were working in the Washington first mayoral campaign

  4. Volumes that aggregate the articles from the main stream press and from the left press.

  5. A study that documents our research and archive on campaign

  6. Research materials of our work, background material on history and theory, and other material from research on Black mayors

This campaign was critical because it proved the following:

>Black people can be the basis for progressive politics if led by activists in the Black liberation struggle;

>Black Latino unity is essential for progressive politics;

>A progressive agenda must be based on politics that serve the quality of life in the neighborhoods of the city;

>The organizations of progressive politics should remain autonomous from City Hall

Today we are involved in another mayoral race in Chicago (Fall, 2010). We hope that these materials will be of use to people engaged in the politics of this time.

ELECTION DAY IS February 22, 2011

ABDUL ALKALIMAT Editor / Department of African American Studies
University of Illinois / Launched November 2010