Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Inauguration Day

"Washington selected the Navy Pier as his inaugural site because it represented a symbolic victory for minorities. The pier was the place where Rev. Jesse Jackson launched his successful Chicago Fest boycott against Mayor Jane Byrne in the summer of '82. The success of the boycott was Exhibit A of the rise of Black political clout in Chicago."
Dempsey J. Travis, Harold : The People's Mayor



Inaguration day, April 29, 1983. Harold Washington became Chicago's mayor twenty-five years ago after a bitter election campaign with Bernard Epton, in which much of the white political machine switched over to back Epton. Washington brought into office a progressive agenda about jobs, neighborhoods, open government, and fairness. Washington's authentic political speech contrasts with so much of today's santitized sound bites.

"I don't even want to be called intelligent. That's a put down. It's manifestly obvious I am intelligent...Nor is it necessary to constantly refer to me as articulate. Why don't they just come out and say that Iknow what I'm talking about."

"Have you ever noticed that when people are wearing a Washington button they always smile, they always seem to be upbeat? You never see a Washington button wearer looking glum. they are looking forward. They have city building on their minds. They have coalition building on their minds."

"There are no good qualities from past mayors to learn from. None.None. None....None. I didn't mourn at the late mayor's pyre. I don't like anyone dying. But I have no regrets about him leaving. He was racist to the core, from head to toe, hip to hip. No doubt about it."

"So those polls don't mean anything. When it comes to white folks, I take their word for it what they poll. But when it comes to my community, Hispanics, even a lot of poor whites, those polls don't mean one doodly squat."

"The dominant culture may have messed up my pockets -- but not my head."

"I'm running to end Jane Byrne's four-year effort to further institutionalize racial discrimination in this great city."

"Every time a Black person gets closer to the Holy Grail, they move it back."

"And the fate of Chicago is in your hands...in these last hours I say don't leave any stone unturned...You have time to do it. I have a feeling that the people are open and waiting, ready for you to go and talk to them. But the battle cry of this campaign never was and never will directly be, or indirectly, remotely race, the battle cry of this campaign is reform."

"Working people face a two pronged attack today. America's working families are being attacked on the job and in their neighborhoods. Worse, the federal and state governments are assisting the moves to diminish their standard of living."

"In the beginning there was the word. Throughout the campaign you've given me the word. The word is over. Let's go to work."

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