- Category : 1922-births
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 5/2 - Heretical / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Limitation 1
American politician, the first black Mayor of Chicago in 1983 despite admitted troubles with the law in the '70s when he was a practicing lawyer in Chicago and a member of the State Legislature. Washington was frequently the subject of controversy due to several different charges which included failing to provide paid-for services, failing to file income tax for four years in the '60s and failing to pay personal bills. He was suspended from the practice of law and once spent 36 days in jail in 1972.
Harold Washington was born in Chicago, one of 11 children. His father was a Methodist minister who encouraged his love of reading and appreciation for education. He attended Forrestville School and DuSable High School before serving in the U.S. Air Force Engineers in the Pacific from 1943 to 1946. In 1949 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Roosevelt University and earned a Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University’s school of law in 1952. In 1954 he succeeded his late father as a precinct captain in the Third Ward of the Democratic organization. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1953 and began practicing law as an assistant Chicago prosecutor from 1954 to 1958.
From 1960 he served four years as an arbitrator for the Illinois State Industrial Commission. In 1965 he became a state representative, serving until his election to the state senate in 1976. He ran in a special primary held after the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley and finished third of four contenders.
In 1980 he was elected to the House. On 1/03/1981 he became a member of the 97th Congress and served on the Committee on Education and Labor, the Committee on Government Operations and the Judiciary Committee. He began his second mayoral campaign in 1982, shortly after his reelection to the House, and won the Democratic nomination in February 1983. After a stormy, racially tinged contest that attracted national attention, he was elected Mayor on 4/12/1983 and resigned from his House seat to serve as Mayor.
Washington was a complicated person in both his public and private life. Charming and rough, he sometimes let words substitute for action, bad-mouthing people who got in his way. He guarded his privacy, yet gave out his phone number all over town. He had a relaxed leadership style with a need to show his independence, to be combative, to assert himself as leader of a break-through political movement, a late-model New Dealer.
The portly, 65-year-old Washington died of a massive coronary at his desk on 11/25/1987, 11:01 AM CST, Chicago, IL. seven months after winning election to a second term.