WBEZ | Harold Washington http://www.wbez.org/tags/harold-washington Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en So, why did it take so long for it to be Mayor Jane Byrne's turn? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/so-why-did-it-take-so-long-it-be-mayor-jane-byrnes-turn-110556 <p><p>Shortly before Chicago&#39;s City Council officially honored former Mayor Jane Byrne by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/jane-byrne-closer-getting-memorial-110573" target="_blank">naming the Water Tower Plaza after her</a>, her name had been thrown about quite a bit. The political momentum required for July&#39;s up-or-down vote, as well as the effusive praise heaped on Byrne, grew exponentially in the previous months. But that came after decades-worth of radio silence concerning her, the city&#39;s first and only female mayor.</p><p>Perhaps that silence &mdash;&nbsp;which began almost as soon as Byrne left office in 1983 &mdash;&nbsp;contributed to lifelong Chicagoan Shana Jackson stepping forward with our Curious City question. Shana said before the recent hullabaloo over the former mayor, she&nbsp;had&nbsp;never even heard&nbsp;Jane Byrne&#39;s name. That is, until her father gave her a quick quiz one day.</p><p>&ldquo;My parents are former teachers, and so my dad is always quizzing me about things,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Out of the blue, he asked me about the first woman mayor of Chicago. And I said, &lsquo;What woman mayor of Chicago?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Shana said her father, and later her Facebook friends, told her she should be ashamed that she didn&rsquo;t know about Jane Byrne. So then she hit the Internet.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a <em>lot</em> to be learned about Jane Byrne: There&rsquo;s her <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-byrne-story,0,7583194.story" target="_blank">landslide victory </a>in 1979 over incumbent Mayor Michael Bilandic (and thus the so-called Democratic machine) in an election held shortly after his administration <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/February-2011/Snowpocalypse-Then-How-the-Blizzard-of-1979-Cost-the-Election-for-Michael-Bilandic/" target="_blank">botched handling a massive blizzard</a>.</p><p>Byrne served only one term, but many credit her as the prime mover behind some of the most recognizably &ldquo;Chicago&rdquo; events: the Taste of Chicago, Jazz Fest and numerous neighborhood summer festivals. Ditto for the physical transformation of the city: O&rsquo;Hare&rsquo;s International Terminal, the redevelopment of Navy Pier and the museum campus, public transportation options to the airport and much more.</p><p>There&rsquo;s also her controversial decision (or PR stunt, depending upon your interpretation) to move into the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1981/04/02/us/chicago-s-mayor-spends-lovely-night-at-project.html?module=Search&amp;mabReward=relbias%3Ar" target="_blank">Cabrini-Green</a>&nbsp;public housing development,&nbsp;as well as the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DCLCX1cqAc" target="_blank">protest </a>that erupted when she held a public Easter celebration there.<a name="timeline"></a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="377" mozallowfullscreen="true" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1gLzQq7ISqUuKt5ufNFfQOVXPTrjL_BBaImlnDBuSTc0/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>But what Shana <em>didn&rsquo;t</em> find is any structure or building or street around Chicago named for Mayor Byrne. That&#39;s despite the fact that she could have found <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/so-when-it-jane-byrnes-turn-110556#mayors">plenty named in honor of <em>other</em> Chicago mayors</a> &mdash; even some recent ones.</p><p>That led her to ask:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why is there rare mention and no memorials, buildings or streets named after the only woman mayor of Chicago &mdash; Jane Byrne?</em></p><p>Shana&rsquo;s question arrived as Chicago newspapers, local bloggers and columnists, city officials &mdash; you name it &mdash; were debating whether Jane Byrne deserved to have her name affixed on something, and whether or not she&rsquo;s been ignored.</p><p><em>Chicago Sun-Times </em>columnist Neil Steinberg wrote what he called an <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/steinberg/27312474-452/an-open-letter-to-jane-byrne.html#.U8VW35RdV8E" target="_blank">&ldquo;open letter&rdquo;</a> to Byrne ahead of her 80th birthday, where he talked about her legacy, and how she may think she&rsquo;s been &ldquo;forgotten, erased from history.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Sun-Times</em> columnist Michael Sneed, press secretary for Byrne for a short time in 1979, had led the charge. She&#39;d written extensive <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/sneed/27773585-452/sneed-jane-byrnes-daughter-tells-of-fearless-mom-with-incredible-instincts.html" target="_blank">columns </a>about Byrne, listing her accomplishments and pushing for the city to honor its first woman mayor. Sneed wrote that Byrne&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/27761148-761/ex-mayor-jane-byrnes-trailblazing-legacy-unfairly-ignored-sneed.html#.U8VW4ZRdV8E" target="_blank">legacy has been ignored</a> by subsequent mayoral administrations, basically erased during Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s tenure in office, and long overdue for recognition.&rdquo;</p><p>Sneed&rsquo;s columns opened the floodgates for other <a href="http://abc7chicago.com/news/movement-pushes-for-recognition-of-former-mayor-jane-byrne/94032/" target="_blank">media outlets</a> to chase down the story, and for city <a href="http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/sneed-proposals-introduced-honor-ex-mayor-byrne/wed-06252014-1053am" target="_blank">officials</a> to weigh in.</p><p>To answer why it took so long for Byrne&rsquo;s name to grace any public assets, it helps to understand how something &mdash; anything &mdash; gets named by the city in the first place. And then, of course, there&rsquo;s the core of Shana&#39;s concern: <em>Why</em> hadn&#39;t Byrne had anything named after her?</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">The process: Naming something after a Chicago mayor</span></strong></p><p>The city of big shoulders has a penchant for slapping peoples&rsquo; names on things. (Just ask <a href="http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/4rc83p/signfeud" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a>). But regardless of who the honored may be (<a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/the-scene/food-drink/Charlie-Trotter-Honored-on-Eve-or-Retirement-168088876.html" target="_blank">Charlie Trotter</a>, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-03-08/news/0003080158_1_honor-sinatra-statue-city-of-big-shoulders" target="_blank">Frank Sinatra</a>, or a Chicago mayor), the process eventually involves Chicago&rsquo;s City Council.</p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with city streets. Up until 1984, official street names and the green signs that depict their directions were up for grabs. For example Cermak Road, formerly 22nd Street, was named after Mayor Anton Cermak, who was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/anton-cermak-chicagos-first-boss-105346" target="_blank">assassinated </a>while in office. Same goes for Hoyne Avenue, named after Mayor Thomas Hoyne. (Interestingly, Hoyne has a street named after him, despite the fact that he was <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/795.html" target="_blank">never allowed to take office</a>.)</p><p>But as one former alderman explained to the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> in <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-02-20/news/0002200122_1_street-signs-street-names-renaming" target="_blank">2000,</a> this street-naming process became onerous. It requires permanent changes to maps, surveys and other records. The Honorary Street Ordinance changed the game in 1984. After that, brown honorary street signs began popping up, directly underneath the green signs that identify Chicago&rsquo;s official street names.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-size:18px;">What is named after Chicago&#39;s mayors?</span></span></strong></p><p style="text-align: center;">(Click the right margin or swipe to proceed through the slides.)<strong><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="mayors"></a></span></strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="700" src="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ag9RbLc9jJ4QdG1fcnlrSUlWNlExc3dDR0lIdDVSX0E&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza said, currently, the process begins with one of the city&rsquo;s 50 aldermen. Any of them can write a resolution or ordinance to name a stretch of street. It then goes before the full council.</p><p>These resolutions pass unless they&rsquo;re controversial. Mendoza says some aldermen in 2006 wanted to create Fred Hampton Way, after a <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/142.html" target="_blank">leader in the Black Panther Party</a>. Another time, an alderman wanted to name a portion of Michigan Avenue after Hugh Hefner, the <em>Playboy Magazine</em> magnate.</p><p>If an honorary street name ordinance passes City Council, the Chicago Department of Transportation creates the requisite brown sign and affixes it to the appropriate post.</p><p>The process works the same way for other structures, too: The council votes on a proposal to name a fountain, building or other public asset after someone. Mendoza says it&rsquo;s most common to wait until after a mayor (or anyone else) dies. For example: Richard J. Daley Center was rededicated and named after him just days after he passed away.</p><p>There are a few ways to name something for a former mayor without the council&rsquo;s purview. Private buildings, naturally, can be named without council approval. DePaul University&#39;s Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building is one notable example.</p><p>As for public school buildings, the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education has a written policy that a school can only be named after someone who has been deceased for at least six months. A sitting mayor and the district&rsquo;s CEO can seek special exemptions, however. A CPS spokesman says this was the case for the naming of Barack Obama College Prep.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">So, why was there nothing for Jane Byrne?</span></strong></p><p>When it comes to political history, no single person (or opinion) can tell &quot;the whole story.&quot; That&#39;s especially the case when it comes to why a controversial, so-called &ldquo;machine-fighting,&rdquo; tough cookie such as Jane Byrne had taken so long to be memorialized.&nbsp;</p><p>As for asking the lady herself, she&rsquo;s now 80 years old and is not in great health, after reportedly suffering from a stroke last year. Her only daughter, Kathy Byrne, a lawyer at local personal injury and mesothelioma firm Cooney and Conway, said her mom is &ldquo;doing okay. She&rsquo;s holding her own, she&rsquo;s stable.&rdquo;</p><p>Kathy Byrne was along for the roller coaster ride of her mom&rsquo;s campaign and then election to the 5th floor office in 1979. Despite that, she&#39;s not sure how to answer Shana Jackson&rsquo;s &ldquo;why so long&rdquo; question.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, I think sometimes &mdash; what do they say? Politics isn&rsquo;t a beanbag?&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And people take their politics very seriously in Chicago, and I think whether or not anything was intentional, it may just be sort of an effect where if someone perceived that if someone doesn&rsquo;t like someone, they&rsquo;re not going to do anything for the person they don&rsquo;t like. ... I don&rsquo;t know that anything was intentional, I think it may have been a misperception.&rdquo;</p><p>Kathy Byrne was obliquely referring to Chicago lore &mdash; printed in the papers and spoken in bars &mdash; that Mayor Richard M. Daley was behind Jane Byrne&rsquo;s absence from Chicago streets and buildings.</p><p>Several people I spoke with for this story were quick to blame him.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s an old adage, young lady,&rdquo; said Paul Green, Director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s called Irish Alzheimer&#39;s: You forget everything but your grudges, and the Daley family and the Byrne family have been grudging themselves for a long time.&rdquo;</p><p>Green said he believes the battle between Jane Byrne and Daley was &ldquo;personal&rdquo; and that Daley didn&rsquo;t want her recognized for anything. But he said it&rsquo;s also true that there had not been any true grassroots support for Byrne.</p><p>&ldquo;She left not exactly in the blaze of glory,&rdquo; Green said. &ldquo;She needed to be calm about what she was about, because not only was she the first woman, but it was the first time in approximately 70 years that the Democratic organization lost the mayoral primary, so she had to go slow, and she didn&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;To her credit, she had an amazing number of ideas, but it was more subject with no predicate.&rdquo;</p><p>But others, like Byrne&rsquo;s first campaign manager, Don Rose, blame it all on Daley.</p><p>&ldquo;Richie Daley did everything possible to make the world forget she ever existed,&rdquo; Rose said. &ldquo;They were mortal enemies. He conceived it that way.&rdquo;</p><p>Rose said he and Byrne didn&rsquo;t part on the best of terms, but he stressed that doesn&rsquo;t influence his appraisal of her. He said Daley&rsquo;s should have been the administration that took on the task of honoring her. Since <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/04/15/1983-mayoral-debate" target="_blank">Byrne had run against Harold Washington</a> in 1983, Washington was likely not in the mood to honor her in anyway during his time in office, according to Rose. By his recollection, a mayor will be honored posthumously, and perhaps one or two mayors down the road. Following this logic, Byrne would have been honored after Richard M. Daley took office in 1989.</p><p>&ldquo;[Daley] was, I have to say, very mean-spirited about Jane Byrne. Of course, I would say, she was mean-spirited about him too,&rdquo; Rose said. &ldquo;If the positions had been reversed, she might have tried to forget about naming anything after him.&rdquo;</p><p>But Ald. Burke &mdash; who served on the Council during Byrne&rsquo;s administration &mdash; said she originally eschewed recognition, and Daley isn&rsquo;t to blame.</p><p>&ldquo;He never, in my presence, expressed any reluctance to have Mayor Byrne honored in any way,&rdquo; he said.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Listen: Jane Byrne on her legacy</strong></span><a name="byrne"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160299515&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Kathy Byrne said she&rsquo;s not certain Daley is to blame, either.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t explain anyone&rsquo;s motivation or even if they have motivation,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I would imagine if somebody&rsquo;s running Chicago, they ought to have bigger things on their minds than erasing or not erasing someone else&rsquo;s legacy.&rdquo;</p><p>But one thing is for sure: Kathy said she and her mom have been bothered by the whole thing. She recalled school girls would interview her mother during Women&rsquo;s History Month projects. Jane, she said, couldn&rsquo;t point the girls to anything named after her.</p><p>&ldquo;She could tell them things, like the [CTA] Orange Line, museum campus, but there was nothing that backed up her assertion, and I think that was kind of frustrating,&rdquo; Byrne said.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it was kind of disillusioning, or the worry that it would be disillusioning to little girls that they could do all this work, and have all these achievements and then it might be ignored, and other people would take credit for them.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Jane Byrne International Terminal?</span></strong></p><p>But now, just over 30 years since she left office, Byrne will soon have something to point to: the park plaza around the Water Tower. This was just one of the ideas pitched to the City Council by Ald. Burke.</p><p>The gesture was a far cry from one of the more infamous moments of Byrne and Burke&rsquo;s relationship. Byrne, while on the campaign trail, called out <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Why-Rahm-Cant-Get-Rid-Of-Ed-Burke-120609814.html" target="_blank">Ald. Burke as part of a &ldquo;cabal of evil men&rdquo;</a> who ran the City Council.</p><p>&ldquo;It was the legendary British statesman Edmund Burke who once said that, in politics, there are no permanent enemies, no permanent friends &mdash; only permanent interests,&rdquo; Burke said, referring to a quotation he often uses. &ldquo;I think it is in the municipal interest that a person who achieved what Jane Byrne achieved in our history should be accorded an appropriate honor.&rdquo;</p><p>Burke officially proposed renaming four structures to become Jane Byrne memorials: the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain in Grant Park; Navy Pier&rsquo;s grand ballroom; the plaza surrounding the Old Chicago Water Tower; and the O&rsquo;Hare International Terminal.&nbsp;</p><p>Kathy Byrne had predicted her mother would be happy with the selection of the Water Tower idea. It&rsquo;s right across the street from the Gold Coast apartment where she lived while mayor.</p><p>Byrne says a Water Tower memorial would be even better if the city could move her mom&rsquo;s beloved <a href="http://chicago-outdoor-sculptures.blogspot.com/2009/07/childrens-fountain.html" target="_blank">Children&rsquo;s Fountain</a> to that site. Jane Byrne, while mayor, originally dedicated the Children&rsquo;s Fountain on Wacker Drive. The fountain was later moved to Lincoln Park, where it sits today.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what that would entail, but the plumbing is all there,&rdquo; Byrne said. &ldquo;If they could do that, that would be ideal, &nbsp;if they could name that park Jane Byrne Plaza. It&rsquo;s her neighborhood, it&rsquo;s the Chicago historical landmark of the Water Tower, and it would be a really nice tribute.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Shana Jackson<a name="qa"></a></span></strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/shanaJacksonMed.jpg" style="height: 322px; width: 230px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Shana Jackson asked our question about former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne. (Photo courtesy of Shana Jackson)" />Shana Jackson calls herself a total South Side girl. She&rsquo;s been living in or around Chicago for her entire life, except when she pursued a degree from Hampton University in Virginia. She currently resides in the Ashburn/Wrightwood neighborhood.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s why she says she&rsquo;s embarrassed to admit the story behind her Curious City question. &nbsp;</p><p>Her parents are former teachers, and so her dad is always quizzing her on things. During a recent family night, Shana&rsquo;s dad shot her his latest pop quiz question:</p><p>&ldquo;So, what do you think about our only woman mayor in Chicago?&rdquo;</p><p>Shana&rsquo;s response?</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;What woman mayor?&rdquo; Shana recalls. &ldquo;And he gave me the weirdest stare ever, because I&rsquo;m super womanist, like &lsquo;yay woman power!&rsquo; And for me to not know there was a woman mayor in Chicago? I was so embarrassed.&rdquo;</p><p>Shana turned things around, though, by doing some Internet research. She said when she couldn&#39;t find any streets or buildings named after Byrne, she came to Curious City to find out why.&nbsp;</p><p>Even then, she couldn&#39;t let the issue go. As she kept up with the news about the proposals, she couldn&#39;t help but believe Jane Byrne deserved some recognition.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that is a travesty,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;How do we as Chicago &mdash; we put our names on everything &mdash; how did we let her down like this?&rdquo;</p><p>Shana is currently pursuing a dual degree in social work and law at Loyola University Chicago.</p><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">Lauren Chooljian</a> is a WBEZ reporter. Digital producer <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda">Tricia Bobeda</a> contributed to this story.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/so-why-did-it-take-so-long-it-be-mayor-jane-byrnes-turn-110556 Discussion on Harold Washington http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/discussion-harold-washington-106720 <p><p>Thirty years after Harold Washington was elected as Chicago&rsquo;s first black mayor, the Society of Midland Authors will present a panel discussion about Washington&rsquo;s legacy.&nbsp;</p><div>The panel discussion features:&nbsp;<strong>Peter Nolan</strong>, a former NBC5 reporter whose 2012 book <em>Campaign! The 1983 Election That Rocked Chicago</em> is a firsthand account of Washington&rsquo;s election as mayor;&nbsp;<strong>Timuel Black</strong>, author of <em>Bridges of Memory</em>, a two-volume history of black Chicago;&nbsp;<strong>Salim Muwakkil</strong>, a senior editor at <em>In These Times</em>, a host on WVON-AM 1690, and the author of the text in <em>Harold!: Photographs from the Harold Washington Years</em>;&nbsp;<strong>Robert Starks</strong>, founder of the Harold Washington Institute for Research and Policy Studies at Northeastern Illinois University.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SMA-webstory_7.gif" title="" /></div></div><p>Recorded live Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at the Harold Washington Library Center.</p></p> Tue, 08 Jan 2013 12:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/discussion-harold-washington-106720 Harold Washington's lessons for Obama http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-11/harold-washingtons-lessons-obama-103935 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6694_AP8305250204-scr.jpg" style="height: 421px; width: 620px;" title="Former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington during a 1983 City Council hearing. (AP Photo/James Bourdier)" /></div><p>There are probably hundreds of thousands of people who have first-hand, shared memories of Harold Washington becoming Chicago&#39;s first black mayor and of Barack Obama becoming the country&#39;s first African-American president. There are certainly several dozen people (at least) who were actively involved in both efforts.<br /><br />You&rsquo;d think, then, that more people would pick out the parallels between Washington and Obama&#39;s first terms. Yet, it appears that some important lessons have gone unnoticed.&nbsp;Why bring this up now? Sunday is the 25th anniversary of Washington&rsquo;s passing. Perhaps it&#39;s as good a moment as ever to consider his crusade and what it meant. Washington&rsquo;s legacy is, more than anything, to fight for what&rsquo;s right. (For disclosure, I worked on Washington&#39;s committee on gay and lesbian issues. I also worked on the media team for his 1987 reelection campaign.)<br /><br />In 1983, when Washington broke decades of Democratic machine control, the immediate reaction was steadfast, uncompromising opposition that coalesced around political power and racial justifications made to stymie every one of the new mayor&#39;s moves.&nbsp;For the first half of Washington&#39;s initial term, every single step was blocked by legislative opposition in the City Council. In his inner circle there were ongoing debates as to how to deal with this intransigence. Some wanted compromise, some wanted a fight. Washington was forced to govern by veto.<br /><br />Ultimately, Washington &mdash; a former boxer &mdash; chose to fight, and the struggle became part of both history and pop culture. These days, we remember the clash with fondness: &ldquo;Council Wars,&rdquo; the Eddies, the 29 vs. the 21. But at the time, it seemed like a paralyzing and ugly mire.<br /><br />A little more than halfway through Washington&rsquo;s first term, there was a special aldermanic election in four Chicago wards. You might consider these analogous to the congressional midterm elections. But unlike Obama&rsquo;s &ldquo;shellacking&rdquo; in 2010, in 1985 all four seats were won by Washington supporters. The people rewarded Washington for his passion and punished the opposition for its pigheadedness.<br /><br />With a 25 to 25 City Council split, Washington himself became the deciding vote. He then spent the rest of his first term pushing through his agenda wholesale. In the spring of 1987, Washington won re-election easily, and greatly increased his majority in the City Council. Again, the people rewarded his committment and spirit. He&rsquo;d totally broken the opposition &mdash; until he died a few months later.<br /><br />Curiously, many of the folks around Obama now, who were also around Washington, were those who argued <em>against</em> staunch fighting. They were, in the main, arguing for compromise. And, as we saw in Obama&#39;s first two years (when he had the majority that Washington briefly had at the end of his first term) instead of pushing through his agenda, Obama negotiated against himself nearly every step of the way.<br /><br />It seems to be in Obama&#39;s nature to try to be everyone&#39;s president. It is also undoubtedly in Obama&#39;s nature to try to find common ground. He is not the brilliant and messy volcano that Washington was. As we were all reminded in that nerve-wracking first debate against Mitt Romney, Obama can be frosty and alienated from the process. Obama has written that he came to Chicago in 1985 because of the Washington revolution; yet in his first term, Obama and much of his Chicago team ignored the lessons provided by Washington about fighting on principle, often ceding his own political power and making the path to re-election and to real change harder.<br /><br />Obama won this time by a comfortable margin, but we shouldn&#39;t interpret the victory as a wholesale approbation of his policies and practices. The Republicans helped plenty, by putting up a candidate they could barely stand. The grassroots came alive for Obama after it looked like Mitt Romney might actually pull it off, and after Obama came back with a fiery spirit in the last month of the campaign. In other words, when he began fighting, hard, for his political life.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s the lesson here, Mr. President. If you were able to defy history&rsquo;s racial bias the first time and economics to get elected the second, then consider that your most important campaign is still ahead of you: the 2014&nbsp;midterms.</p><p>Think about Harold and how very fiercely he fought. Think of Washington&#39;s 26th vote and draw the line from him to you. Think of all he would have done, and couldn&#39;t do, and of all that&#39;s still within your grasp.</p></p> Wed, 21 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-11/harold-washingtons-lessons-obama-103935 From Harold to Rahm http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-04-29/harold-rahm-85845 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-29/achey1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-29/achey1.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 331px;" title=""></p><p>Next week, the real governing begins for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And though his style and connections endlessly bring on comparisons to Mayor Richard M. Daley and how much of Daley’s ways and means he’ll preserve, the historic moment at which Emanuel is taking the city’s reins actually echo another mayor altogether: Harold Washington.</p><p>As improbable as it may be, Rahm was elected by the same communities who brought Harold to City Hall: an overwhelming African-American vote, strong lakefront support, a majority of Latinos.</p><p>No, I’m not being nostalgic. When Washington took over, it was a historic opportunity, with a unique coalition, to change business as usual. And he started the process of change – a process delayed by Council Wars and thwarted by Daley’s win in the 1989 special election.</p><p>Like Washington, for whom change was a mantra long before Barack Obama was even a registered voter in Chicago, Emanuel keeps talking change, and in a way different than his post-Harold predecessors. Eugene Sawyer, who followed Washington, talked about preserving Washington’s legacy, about how he wasn’t going to change a thing; Daley upon arrival in 1989, and again, more properly for a full-term in 1991, talked about calm.</p><p>Emanuel and Washington share something else: the city’s current financial crisis seems to weigh on Emanuel’s mind almost as much as it was on Harold’s in his time.</p><p>In fact, sometimes it feels like Daley’s time in office – and Sawyer’s too – were a mere interlude, a suspension of time. It’s like Daley froze the problems from Harold’s time and is just now handing them to Emanuel.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-29/achey2.jpg" title="" width="592" height="403"></p><p>Think I’m kidding?&nbsp;Check out these extended excerpts from Washington’s inaugural speech from 1983 (full transcript attached below as a PDF):</p><p>“This is a very serious vow that I've just taken before God and man, to do everything in my power to protect this City and every person who lives in it.</p><p>I do not take this duty lightly.</p><p>“I was up late last night thinking about this moment. It went through my head hundreds and hundreds of times, and words that I was reading put me in a reflective and a somber, somber mood.</p><p>“On my right hand last night was a bible, which is a very good book for a new Mayor to pay attention to. And, in front of me was a report of the City's finances which my transition team had prepared, and it did not contain very good news.</p><p>“To my left there was no book, because the one I wanted the most does not exist. It's the one that l wish had been written by my tribesman, Jean Pointe Baptiste DuSable, who settled Chicago over 200 years ago.</p><p>“And, as I reflected last night for a brief period of time, I wish he had written a book about how to be a Mayor of a vast city like ours, a repository of wisdom that had been handed down from Mayor to Mayor for all these years.</p><p>“Because, after reading the report about the actual, state of the City's finances, I wanted some good solid, sound advice.</p><p>“Then I realized that to solve the problems facing us, it will have to be decided between you and me, because every Mayor begins anew, and there is no blueprint for the future course that these cities, these municipalities must follow.</p><p>“So I made a list of some of the things you told me during the election campaign, and I found out that you had given the best and most solid advice.</p><p>“The first thing you told me is to do no harm. You told me that the guiding principal of government is to do the greatest good. Your instructions which: I heard from neighborhood after neighborhood, said to be patient and be fair, be candid and, in short, to continue to tell the truth.</p><p>“And so, without malice, even remotely connected with my statement, but impelled by a sense of necessity so that I can continue my reputation for truth and live up to your mandate which requested the truth, I must tell you what we have inherited. I must tell you about the City's finances.</p><p>“As I said before, I have no good news. The immediate fiscal problem facing Chicago is both enormous and complicated.</p><p>“Our school system is not 100 million dollars short next year as we believed during the mayoral campaign. We now find that the income may be $200 million less than the expenditures of that vast bureaucracy.</p><p>“My transition team advises me that the city government is also in far worse financial condition than we thought. The City's general fund has a potential shortfall this year of as much as $150 million.</p><p>“To further complicate the matter, in the waning days of the outgoing administration, hundreds of new city jobs were passed out and hundreds of other jobs reassigned. I say this with malice toward none, but simply to keep the record straight.</p><p>“The City's transportation system faces a $200 million deficit and no internal solution harbors on the horizon.</p><p>“All during the campaign I knew that the City had financial problems and I talked about them repeatedly, incessantly. A majority of the voters believed me and embarked on what can only be described as a great movement and revitalization labeled reform.</p><p style="text-align: center;">********</p><p>“In that same spirit, today I am asking all of you—particularly you who have taken the oath with me today — to respond to a great challenge: help me institute reforms and bring about the revival and renewal of this great City while there is still time.</p><p>“Business as usual will not be accepted by the people of this City. Business as usual will not be accepted by any part of this City. Business as usual will not be accepted by this chief executive of this great City.</p><p>“The only greater challenge in our history in Chicago was 110 years ago when Mayor Joseph Medill looked over a city burned to the ground and called for an enormous outpouring of civic spirit and resources to make the city new.</p><p>“The real challenge is in the neighborhoods, as I've said for the past several months. I'm asking the people in the neighborhoods, all of the neighborhoods, to take a direct role in the planning, development and City housekeeping so that our City becomes a finer place in which to live.</p><p>“I'm calling for more leadership and more personal involvement in what goes on. We know the strength of the grass roots leadership because our election was based on it. We want this powerful infra-structure to grow because the success of tomorrow's City depends upon it, and the world and country look for an example as to how we can find the way out.</p><p>“Information must flow freely from the administration to the people and back again. The City's books will be open to the public because we don't have a chance to institute fiscal reform unless we all know the hard facts.</p><p>“I believe in the process of collective bargaining when all the numbers&nbsp;are on the table and the City and its unions sit down and hammer out an agreement together. The only contracts in life are those that work and work because they are essentially fair.</p><p>“Having said all this, I want you to know that the situation is serious but not desperate. I am optimistic about our future. I'm optimistic not just because I have a positive view of life, and I do, but because there is so much about this City that promises achievement.</p><p>“We are a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-language City and that is not a source to negate but really a source of pride, because it adds stability and strength to a metropolitan city as large as ours. Our minorities are ambitious, and that is a sign of a prosperous city on the move. Racial fears and divisiveness have hurt us in the past. But I believe that this is a situation that will and must be overcome.</p><p>“Our schools must be improved. They're going to get a lot better because we're calling on students, teachers and administrators to study longer and achieve more.</p><p>“I'm going to set a personal example for what we all have to do by working harder and longer than you've ever seen a mayor work before.</p><p>“Most of our problems can be solved. Some of them will take brains, some of them will take patience, and all of them will have to be wrestled with like an alligator in the swamp.</p><p>“But there is a fine new spirit that seems to be taking root. I call it the spirit of renewal. It's like the spring coming here after a long winter. This renewal. It refreshes us and gives us new faith that we can go on.</p><p>Last night I saw the dark problems and today I see the bright promise of where we stand. Chicago has all the resources necessary for prosperity. We are at the crossroads of America — a vital transportation, economic, and business center. We are the heartland.</p><p>“We have a clear vision of what our people can become, and that vision goes beyond mere economic wealth, although that is a part of our hopes and expectations.</p><p>“In our ethnic and racial diversity, we are all brothers and sisters in a quest for greatness. Our creativity and energy are unequaled by any city anywhere in the world. We will not rest until the renewal of our City is done.</p><p>“Today, I want to tell you how proud I am to be your Mayor. There have been 41 Mayors before me and when I was growing up in this City and attending its public schools it never dawned upon me nor did I dream that the flame would pass my way. But it has.</p><p>“And that flame like the buck will stop here. And we won't quench it, we'll brighten it. We'll add oil and make it brighter and brighter and brighter.</p><p>“It makes me humble, but it also makes me glad. I hope someday to be remembered by history as the Mayor who cared about people and who was, above all, fair. A Mayor who helped, who really helped, heal our wounds and stood the watch while the City and its people answered the greatest challenge in more than a century. Who saw that City renewed.</p><p>“My good friends and neighbors, the oath of office that I have taken today before God binds us all together. I cannot be successful without you. But with you, we can not fail. I reach out my hand and I ask for your help</p><p>“With the same adventurous spirit of Jean Pointe Baptiste DuSable when he founded Chicago, we are going to do some great deeds here together.</p><p>“In the beginning there was the word. Throughout this campaign you've given me the word. The word is over. Let's go to work.”</p><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 29 Apr 2011 15:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-04-29/harold-rahm-85845 Progressive politics bring community activism to City Hall http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-24/progressive-politics-bring-community-activism-city-hall-82831 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Mayor Harold Washington AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The heyday of progressive politics was no doubt during the tenure of the late Mayor Harold Washington. Author <a target="_blank" href="http://aap.cornell.edu/crp/faculty/faculty-profile.cfm?customel_datapageid_7102=16899">Pierre Clavel</a> believes that Washington&rsquo;s ties to progressive groups were in fact the key to his success. Clavel explores the importance of progressive politics in his book, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Activists-City-Hall-Progressive-Response/dp/0801449294"><em>Activists in City Hall: The Progressive Response to the Reagan Era in Boston and Chicago.</em></a> He&rsquo;s a professor emeritus in the department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke to Professor Clavel to find out what role progressive politics played in Chicago's recent municipal election.</p><p><em>Nicola Conte, &quot;Forma 2000&quot;, from the CD Bossa Per Due, (ESL)</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Feb 2011 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-24/progressive-politics-bring-community-activism-city-hall-82831 The role immigration will play in municipal elections http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/role-immigration-will-play-municipal-elections <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/immigration_protests C Rex Arbo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>According to the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.census.gov/">U.S. Census</a>, nearly one in five residents in the Chicago area is foreign-born. So it may come as no surprise that Chicago's been at the center of some immigrant reforms&mdash;after all, Chicago is a sanctuary city. And with immigration a vexed issue on the national front, immigration is increasingly the concern of local communities.<br /><br />How are the aldermanic and mayoral candidates tackling this topic in their campaigns? To learn more about the role immigration is playing in the municipal elections,&quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; turned to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.uic.edu/las/latamst/directory/torres.shtml">Maria de Los Angeles Torres</a>, or Nena, as she goes by. De Los Angeles Torres is a political scientist and former city administrator under Harold Washington.</p></p> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 15:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/role-immigration-will-play-municipal-elections