Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Who can be the next Harold Washington? #ChgoMayor2019

Here's Harold!
This editorial was published over the weekend of the Chicago Tribune. It seems many in Black Chicago have been looking for the next Harold Washington and unfortunately no one has come close yet. Will it likely happen?

The Tribune's Dahleen Glanton attempts to answer.
The kind of perfect storm that came together to elect the first African-American mayor in 1983 doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a well-thought-out plan and a multicultural chorus of united voices to form a movement that changes the face of politics.

In Chicago, Harold Washington was the first to show us what that kind of energy looks like. We saw it nine years later with the election of Carol Moseley Braun to the U.S. Senate and again in 2008 when Barack Obama first ran for president.

When an African-American candidate is on the verge of winning an important race, there is excitement in the air. It’s hard to explain, but there’s an overall feeling that this is our time and that we’re on the verge of something momentous.

During those elections, you could barely find a home on the West or South sides that didn’t have a sign in the yard with the candidate’s face on it. You couldn’t have a conversation that didn’t lead to talk about the first black mayor or the first black female senator or the first black president. There was a tingle in the pit of your stomach.

That kind of energy isn’t brewing in Chicago right now. In fact, 35 years after Washington’s election, it seems impossible that black people would rally around a single mayoral candidate.

That’s not to say no one is qualified for the job. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle certainly is. So are Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown, state Rep. La Shawn Ford and attorney Lori Lightfoot, if you’re looking only at experience.

None of these candidates, though, have the charisma of a Harold Washington. They can’t fire up a room with a simple phrase like, “You want Harold? You got ’em!” None of them make us feel like we’ve got this in the bag.

Unfortunately, personality has a lot to do with winning elections. But beyond that, there are other more complex issues.
If I recall my history since I was really too young to remember the events leading up to that history 1983 mayoral election, there was an appetite in the Black community for a Black mayor of Chicago. As it turned out Congressman Harold Washington was also the right man to be mayor of Chicago. On the other hand I always gotten the impression that Blacks who have ran for mayor in the succeeding years since Mayor Washington's sudden and unexpected death were often running for Mayor of "Black Chicago".

 Who in the current crop of mayoral candidates can truly be the mayor for all of Chicago? And who in the future can be seen as the mayor for all of Chicago?

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