CITY HALL — The City Council declared Monday to be Harold Washington Day across Chicago.
The motion passed by acclamation at Wednesday's meeting, endorsed by many of the people who entered politics after he was elected Chicago's first African-American mayor 30 years ago.
Ald. William Burns (4th) was the lead sponsor.
"What I'm worried about is people will lose sight of what he did and of the movement," Burns said. Burns pointed out Washington was swept into office with the backing not just of African-Americans, but Hispanics and progressives, and he opened Chicago government to the previously disenfranchised, thus changing it forever.
Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) pointed out that Washington had the idea for what later turned out to be Local School Councils, placing a measure of power in the hands of parents at Chicago Public Schools.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said she had worked for Washington in the early days of her political career.
The day will not be a formal holiday, but will celebrate Washington's life and achievements. The city library named after him will hold an evening program on his legacy. It falls on his birthday, April 15.
The three remaining members of the 29 aldermen who blocked Washington in what became known as Council Wars in the mid-'80s did not comment on the resolution. Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) left the Council Chamber for most of the comment period, and Aldermen Edward Burke (14th) and Patrick O'Connor (40th) remained silent.