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Last week, Harold Washington College, the Student Government Association, and the Harold Washington Centennial Celebration Committee unveiled a mural that embodies the leadership, energy and spirit of Chicago’s first Black Mayor, Harold Washington.

 In 2021, Harold Washington College was named a Citizen Leadership Center by The Citizens Campaign. The campaign gives citizens the tools and know-how to exercise their power beyond the ballot, equipping them with the pragmatic, problem solving skills needed to work together and affect change in their communities. 

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“I think Mayor Washington would have liked this very much. Empowering students in the name of Mayor Harold Washington has been part of Harold’s Washington College’s DNA, and for a long time now. As I lead this college and make decisions, I reflect on how Mayor Washington forged a citywide coalition that united disparate communities around a common agenda of inclusion and reform in the name of equity for all,” Harold Washington College President Daniel Lopez said in a statement.

Who was Harold Lee Washington?

Born April 15, 1922 in Chicago, Washington served during World War II in the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion. He eventually rose to the rank of first sergeant, according to a biography from Chicago Public Library. He received an American Campaign Medal and honorably discharged in 1946.

Harold Washington celebrates his victory in the 1983 Chicago mayoral election, alongside fianceé Mary Ella Smith.
Brent Jones – Chicago Sun-Times

The trailblazer graduated from Roosevelt in 1949 and from Northwestern University School of Law in 1952. The private attorney eventually became an assistant city prosecutor for Chicago in 1954. Stepping into his leadership shoes in the 1960s, Washington became an Illinois state representative, then a state senator, before serving in U.S. Congress from 1981 to 1983.

In 1983, he became the first Black mayor of Chicago until his death in 1987.

“It is my hope that this mural somehow encapsulates a little of his larger-than-life personality and his accomplishments —inspiring others to fight for equity and what is right,” he added.

City Colleges of Chicago

City Colleges of Chicago’s more than 3,800 faculty and staff serve more than 50,000 students annually at seven colleges and five satellite sites. 

City Colleges’ vision is to be recognized as the city’s most accessible higher education engine of socioeconomic mobility and racial equity – empowering all Chicagoans to take part in building a stronger and more just city.

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