CITY HALL — A South Side minister plans to formally ask the mayor in the new year to push for a citywide holiday celebrating Mayor Harold Washington.
"We are not going to accept 'no,'" said the Rev. Robert Floid Plump, president of the Harold Washington Foundation.
Since declaring the campaign in the waning days of the Richard M. Daley administration in April 2011, Plump has held monthly news conferences and rallies in support of making April 15, the birthday of Chicago's first black mayor, a citywide holiday. He held another Wednesday outside the City Hall office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, joined by colleague Ronald Yokley.
"We are remembering Harold, 25 years later," Plump said, citing Washington's death of a heart attack while in office in November 1987. Washington was elected in 1983 and won re-election four years later shortly before his death.
"Harold was beautiful in his knowledge and understanding, so we're going to work to promote his legacy," Plump said.
So far, first Daley and then Emanuel have ignored the campaign, he said, but there is support in the City Council.
"They are aware," Plump added. "We have had some response from the aldermen."
Yet Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said it was the first he'd heard of the proposal.
"Even though Harold accomplished a lot of great things as a legislator and as mayor of Chicago, I think I would disagree with that," he said of a citywide holiday on the order of Casimir Pulaski Day. "We're trying to keep our children in schools longer," he added, not give them another day off. Pulaski Day, for instance, fell victim to the longer school year and isn't likely to return as a day off for students.
Still, Plump said he'll write Emanuel a formal letter in the new year asking him to work to make the Washington birthday a legal holiday citywide.
Chicago police officers assigned to the mayor's office permitted the impromptu news conference, but drew the line when Yokley sat down to play the bongos as a spiritual welcoming.
"We didn't come to go to jail today," Plump said in accepting the ban on music.
Emanuel is on an end-of-year family vacation in Vietnam. His office did not return calls for comment.