As the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington’s death approaches this Sunday, November 25, 2012, we’re sharing moments of remembrance all this week. All stories are from the Sun-Times archives. And don’t forget to check out our Harold Washington timeline.
What follows below is the complete six-part series Six Solemn Days which originally ran in the Sun-Times in December 1987.
Chicago Sun-Times Library File Photo by Al Podgorski
Six Solemn Days
By: Sun-Times Staff
Day 1: The Mayor Is Dead
Harold Washington, who became Chicago’s first black mayor in 1983, died Wednesday after collapsing in his City Hall office.
He was declared dead at 1:36 p.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, after prolonged efforts to resuscitate him.
Washington, 65, died as a result of a large clot in the major artery to his heart, Cook County Medical Examiner Robert Stein said Wednesday night after an autopsy.
Also contributing to the mayor’s death, Stein said, was the fact that he was seriously overweight at 284 pounds. Normal weight for a man his size – 5 feet 10 inches – would be about 180 pounds, Stein said.
The examination disclosed that the mayor’s heart was three times normal size because of disease, Stein said. Other arteries leading to the heart were 90 percent to 95 percent blocked by fat, he said.
“His blood vessels could not carry the burden of all that fat,” he said. “Obesity definitely contributed to the demise of the mayor.”
Stein said the heart attack killed Washington quickly and that probably no emergency measures, even within minutes of the attack, could have revived him.
Alton Miller, the mayor’s press secretary, said Washington had complained in recent days of “some kind of a viral bronchitis or some kind of a congestion.”
However, the medical chief of Northwestern Memorial said he doubted that the congestion played a role in the fatal attack.
The mayor’s office said there will be a memorial service at 3 p.m tomorrow in the Daley Center Plaza. The body will lie in state in the City Hall rotunda from 4 p.m. tomorrow to midnight Sunday.
A funeral procession will begin at 9 a.m. Monday at the A. A. Rayner Funeral Home, 318 E. 71st, and end at Christ Universal Church, 11901 S. Ashland, where private services will be at 10 a.m.
The mayor collapsed in his fifth-floor office about 11 a.m. while sitting at his desk and talking to Miller. The press secretary said the mayor suddenly slumped.
“I thought he was trying to pick something up off the floor, like a pen that he might have dropped,” said Miller. “I quickly realized it was more serious than that.”
Miller alerted the mayor’s bodyguards, who immediately began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation. They were joined within a few minutes by six paramedics, a paramedic intern and three doctors, including the city health commissioner, Dr. Lonnie Edwards.
The paramedic teams at City Hall and in an ambulance treated Washington with drug and intravenous solution injections, oxygen applications, CPR and electroshock to the chest, but failed to revive the mayor, sources said.
Paramedics received the first call at 11:01, according to the Fire Department. Two paramedics based in City Hall were dispatched immediately, and the first of two ambulances arrived at City Hall at 11:03.
The mayor was unconscious when he was carried out on a stretcher and put into an ambulance that took him to Northwestern, where he arrived at 11:26. During the short trip, his vital signs were being transmitted to the hospital by emergency telemetry.
Northwestern spokeswoman Pat Miller said Washington was “in full cardiac arrest” when he arrived.
He was taken to the critical-care treatment area of the hospital’s emergency room, where he was worked on by teams of doctors, including cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and an emergency medical team.
Dr. John Sanders, chief of staff at Northwestern, said:
“He was placed upon an advanced form of heart-lung machine, which can be applied very quickly – and with that we were able to accomplish essentially normal circulatory dynamics within about 15 minutes of his arrival. Unfortunately, the mayor sustained irreversible brain damage. We could not get any signs of neurologic recovery nor spontaneous cardiac activity, and he was pronounced dead at 1:36 this afternoon.”
Asked who made the decision to stop the lifesaving effort, Sanders said: “I, in conjunction with his own physician, a neurologist, a cardiologist and his family, determined that after a period of two hours of very adequate profusion, there was no sign of spontaneous neurologic or cardiac activity. It would technically be possible to maintain someone for perhaps another few hours in this state. I told his family the best guide that we have in that circumstance is to offer what we would do for our own family.”
Sanders said Washington probably was brain-dead when he arrived at the hospital.
“He never regained consciousness,” Sanders said, “and would have experienced no sensation.”
The anointing of the sick was administered in the hospital by the mayor’s pastor, the Rev. B. Herbert Martin Sr.; the Rev. Thomas Nangle, a Roman Catholic priest from Holy Name Cathedral, and the Rev. Landis McAlpin, a Fire Department chaplain from St. Philip’s Lutheran Church.
Among those in the hospital’s waiting room were Mary Ella Smith, the mayor’s fiancee, mayoral chief of staff Ernest Barefield, Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), Ald. Helen Shiller (46th), Ald. Anna Langford (16th), Ald. David Orr (49th), Ald. Timothy Evans (4th), CTA Board member Howard Medley Sr., Chicago Park District Supt. Jesse Madison, former chief mayoral political operative Joe Gardner, U.S. Reps. Charles Hayes (D-Ill.) and Gus Savage (D-Ill.) and state Sen. Dawn Clark Netsch (D-Chicago).
Describing the heart-lung machine Washington was placed on, Sanders said: “He was completely supported by that machine within 15 minutes of our being notified that he was on his way. The machine allows essentially normal circulation to take place. It makes its own heart and lungs. Hearts which are essentially dead will normally come back in a pretty normal rhythm.”
Washington also was provided with an external pacemaker.
Sun-Times photo by John H. White
Day 2: Evans, Sawyer top mayor list
The names of black Aldermen Timothy C. Evans (4th) and Eugene Sawyer (6th) rose in equal volume out of the buzz over mayoral succession Thursday.
There were clear signs that Old Guard white aldermen were tilting toward Sawyer, one of the earliest allies of the late Mayor Washington. Blacks were divided, with the more independent seeming to favor Evans. The Council’s four Hispanics vowed to unite behind one candidate, and it was learned they tentatively back Evans.
The lakefront liberals, also viewed as a swing bloc, were exploring their options and professing that they will get behind a person who seems the most sympathetic to reform causes.
Aldermen huddled in little groups and worked the phones to sound each other out on who will be selected, probably in about a week, to serve as mayor until a special election, probably in 1989, for the unexpired term of Washington, who died Wednesday of a heart attack.
There was scant mention of alternatives to Evans and Sawyer – both veteran aldermen, Democratic ward committeemen and stalwarts of Washington’s City Council forces.
The prospects were judged slim that an Evans-Sawyer deadlock could result in the election of a compromise choice such as Ald. Danny K. Davis (29th), an eloquent black ward committeeman and Washington ally, or white Aldermen Richard F. Mell (33rd), a well-liked manufacturer and ward committeeman, or Terry M. Gabinski (32nd), a protege of U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.).
Cook County Democratic Chairman George W. Dunne is likely to support the election of a black successor to Washington, Democratic sources indicated. Dunne is said to believe that blacks were excluded too long from leadership positions in the Democratic Party and to be sensitive to the possible fallout from the election of a white mayor.
Edmund L. Kelly, influential 47th Ward Democratic committeeman, as advised allies that a black should be chosen to succeed Washington.
Interim Mayor David D. Orr was given police bodyguards upon Washington’s death. By Police Department order, Sawyer and Evans also were provided police bodyguards.
Evans and Sawyer maintained public silence about their competition for the top prize.
Said Evans, 44, a lawyer who was elected alderman and committeeman in 1973 and who heads the powerful Finance Committee, “This is the time to reflect on the great deeds of the late mayor.”
But Evans did not stop Jacky Grimshaw, Washington’s top political aide, from aggressive lobbying of aldermen in his behalf. Nor did Sawyer discourage his ardent supporters, Aldermen William M. Beavers (7th) and William C. Henry (24th), from rival efforts.
Sawyer, 53, a former city chemist who was elected committeeman in 1968 and alderman in 1971, serves the Council as president pro tem, presiding in the absence of the mayor, and as chairman of the Rules Committee, deliberating such sensitive matters as committee assignments.
“I have not eaten in a day and a half,” Sawyer said. “I’ve been on the phone sharing expressions of sorrow with so many friends, relatives and constituents of our late mayor. There will be a time, but not now, for talk of succession.”
When pressed on issues in separate interviews, Sawyer and Evans proclaimed support and willingness to fight for the record city budget prepared by the late mayor. They also claimed leadership credentials for Washington reforms.
Evans supporters, however, were quick to point out that Washington chose Evans as his Council floor leader, chairman of the most prestigious and powerful committee and as onetime chief of his political office.
Sawyer’s friends pointed out that Sawyer was the first black alderman to endorse Washington for mayor and produced the largest vote for the mayor in both of his campaigns.
Sawyer appeared to be gaining substantial backing from white committeemen, some of whom say they believe he would be easier to defeat in a special election than Evans. The Democratic regulars also privately indicated they believe Sawyer would be more open than Evans to their concerns.
The four Hispanic aldermen – Jesus G. Garcia (22nd), Juan M. Soliz (25th), Luis V. Gutierrez (26th) and Raymond A. Figueroa (31st) – were believed to be leaning toward Evans.
Forming another swing bloc are the lakefront aldermen, who have voted with the Washington bloc. They are Burton F. Natarus (42nd), Edwin W. Eisendrath (43rd) and Helen Shiller (46th). The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who returns today from the Middle East, is being looked to for leadership by supporters of both black contenders.
The interim mayor said he and Corporation Counsel Judson H. Miner, who was present, concur that the acting mayor will serve under law until April, 1989, and that popular election of the next mayor cannot come earlier.
Jesse Jackson, right, views the body of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington in this Nov. 27, 1987 file photo. Ten years after his death, Harold Washington is still larger than life for many Chicagoans – a black folk hero who, like it or not, changed the city forever. (AP Photo/Mark Elias, File)
Day 3: Thousands pay their final respects to mayor
Like tens of thousands before and after her, the woman padded softly across the red carpet, coming to a halt before Mayor Washington’s casket.
In the background, a soprano sang, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” accompanied by a piano and a trumpet.
Suddenly, the woman threw her hands to her face, bowed and cried out, “Oh, Harold, please, please, don’t go.”
Her cry was drowned out by the crescendo of the soprano’s accompaniment, and white-gloved policemen gently nudged her along.
The mayor’s casket sat in the City Hall rotunda Friday, flanked by white chrysanthemums, the city flower. The city’s seal, adorned with a black sash, hung on a makeshift curtain wall. The Chicago flag draped the bottom half of the casket, while above Washington’s head a folded U.S. flag saluted him.
As mourners lined up outside City Hall for a final glimpse of the man they so admired, family, friends, aldermen, associates and members of the late mayor’s staff were paying their final respects. Hushed and solemn in the dimly lit rotunda, they filed past the casket.
Interim Mayor David D. Orr stopped for a moment. On his lapel was a button with a color photograph of Washington wearing his familiar smile.
Washington’s press secretary, Alton Miller, who was with him in his office when he collapsed of a heart attack Wednesday, stood for a moment, turned, took a few steps and turned again.
Dempsey Travis, the late mayor’s friend of 55 years, walked slowly past the casket, his hands thrust into his pockets, as if choosing to remember the jovial, backslapping man of just a few days ago.
Washington’s bodyguards, again standing watch over their boss, fought back tears.
Former Mayor Jane M. Byrne, defeated by Washington in two primary elections, waited in line 2 1/2 hours. She said it was unfortunate that he didn’t receive “two or three” terms “to accomplish his dreams.”
Controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, accompanied by Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), paid his respects, saying that the city had “lost a great leader.”
At about 5:30, 1 1/2 hours into the visitation that will continue through midnight tomorrow, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson arrived. With him were U.S. Rep. Charles Hayes (D-Ill.), Appellate Court Justice R. Eugene Pincham, Ald. Bobby Rush (2nd), Ald. Jesus Garcia (22nd) and the two aldermen said to be the front-runners for mayoral succession, Timothy Evans (4th) and Eugene Sawyer (6th).
The crowd outside cheered.
Jackson stopped in the hall outside the rotunda and addressed his companions, who had met him earlier at O’Hare Airport.
“We are depending on you to keep the dream alive,” he told them. “We have lost Harold. We have not lost the dream. The team must stay together.”
Inside, the group paused before the casket, as Jackson said a prayer. A man in a tattered coat interrupted with the cry: “We love you, Harold. We love you.”
Jackson completed the prayer, then the small group clasped hands, swayed and sang “We Shall Overcome.” Many of the people in line clasped hands and joined in the song. There were blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, young, old.
And there was an unexpected common denominator: Many wore the blue “Harold Washington for mayor” buttons that first appeared during his underdog 1983 campaign.
The bodies of many heaved with sobs. They reached out to touch Washington, perhaps contemplating how he had touched their lives.
South Sider Henrietta Cornell, 58, had been in line since noon and was one of the first to enter when the doors opened at 4 p.m. A campaign volunteer for Washington, she said, “All of the years that I’ve known him have made a difference.”
What struck her most, she said, was that he was “such a friendly man. We never had to be formal with him. . . . You could always say, `Hi, Harold!’ “
One woman, racked with emotion, screamed, “I’m going to miss you, Harold. I’m going to miss Harold.” Another woman fainted. She was carried out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
A wreath was carried in. Signed “Love, Mary Ella,” it presumably came from the late mayor’s fiancee, Mary Ella Smith, who arrived at City Hall by police squad car but decided not to go in when she saw the crowd.
By 5 p.m., the lines outside City Hall were at times six or seven deep. Many of those in line had come from the Daley Center Plaza across the street, where they had stood in the rain to hear words of comfort at an ecumenical memorial service.
The service had begun with the song, “Precious Lord” reverberating through the plaza and off buildings. Later, as the mayor’s pastor, the Rev. B. Herbert Martin, led the crowd in the 23rd Psalm, many bowed their heads and cried.
And among the mourners outside City Hall, a familiar cry went up: “Harold. Harold. We want Harold.”
Chicagoans gather at the Daley Center Plaza for a prayer vigil for the late Mayor Harold Washington. Mayor Washington’s Sudden Death (photo by Al Podgorski, November 25, 1987)
Day 4: Mourners’ tears, rain merge in grief
The rain continued to fall Saturday, heavier than the day before when some 100,000 people stood in a steady drizzle to view the late mayor lying in state in City Hall.
By noon, it was a downpour, but those waiting in line just huddled closer, not to be deterred from a final goodbye.
Officials said 122,500 paid their respects between 4 p.m. Friday, when the visitation started, and 9 a.m. Saturday, yet the crowds showed no sign of letting up.
Many there in the early afternoon had come from watching the fourth annual McDonald’s charity Christmas parade, where a riderless horse reminded them of the loss of Mayor Washington.
Walking up to the line that stretched 1 1/2 blocks, Ursula Andrews, 24, of the Near North Side, joined the crowd with her son, 3.
She said she didn’t know if those were tears or rain falling down her face.
“He’s gone. He’s really gone. I guess it’s really now hitting me,” she said. “At the parade, I was all right till I saw the horse that was supposed to be carrying him. That’s how I feel right now, you know? Like something’s missing.”
The rain fell harder, and she buried her head in her son’s coat and wept.
Farther up the line, Tim and Cathy Mahoney of the Southwest Side held each other tightly. They had been in line more than an hour but would wait as long as it took, they said. “I don’t know. I just have to see him. I still can’t believe it,” said Cathy, 29.
Her husband pulled her closer. “We had a lot of respect for that guy,” he said. “Although his constituency was black, he was a fair man, genuinely concerned about the welfare of everybody. Those who say otherwise didn’t give him a chance.”
Throughout the line, people whispered and murmured, mostly about Harold Washington. But all talk ceased when they reached the awning that graced the La Salle Street entrance.
Then, people became silent and solemn, removing their hats. Some even began to shake.
“I just suddenly feel cold, and I know it was colder out there,” said Anne Johnson, 72, of the West Side. She looked down at the carpet, a little nervous.
Inside, two single-file processions moved slowly toward the casket, where Washington’s bodyguards and white-gloved policemen and firefighters stood watch, as they will through midnight tonight, when the visitation ends.
A mother picked up her child to peer into the casket. “There’s our mayor. He’s leaving us now. Say goodbye, dear,” she said, crying.
The child raised her arm, and opening and closing her small fists, she waved, “Bye-bye.” Then, turning a smiling face to her mother, she sensed this was not a happy occasion, and began to cry, too.
A man approached carrying a camera, as so many did. He raised it for a final picture, but tears blurred his vision. He started to wipe the lens, but started to sob, changed his mind and hurried out.
One little girl passed by nervously wringing her little hands. “Is he going to be all right Mommy?” she asked, staring at the body.
“Yes, dear. The mayor’ll be just fine. He’s with God now,” the mother replied.
The daughter smiled.
A blind man approached, led by a woman, who told him, “We’re in front of the casket now.”
“I know,” said the man. “I felt we were.”
The words of the song “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” followed mourners out through the Clark Street entrance.
Once outside, Irene Coleman, 69, of the West Side, took a deep breath.
“You know, I don’t think we’ll ever have another mayor like him,” she said.
“I remember the second time I met him. He visited my church. One of the ladies pulled him into the aisle and started dancing with him. He just laughed and smiled in that way he had, and danced along. `Dum, dee, dee, dum,’ he said. I am really going to miss him.”
Other mourners attended a memorial for Washington at Operation PUSH, where the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson vowed to “keep the team together” that elected Washington.
The crowd was so large that PUSH officials closed the doors to their 1,000-seat auditorium and directed hundreds of late arrivals to another room where speakers carried the speeches by Jackson and a host of Washington’s political allies.
Jackson likened the late mayor to a wagonmaster who had to balance his load to move forward without upsetting the cart.
“You’ve got to be a tough taskmaster in Chicago if you’re going to drive the horses,” Jackson said.
“This ain’t no one-horse town.”
Sun-Times photo by John H. White
Day 5: Prayer offered in many languages
Chicagoans prayed and sang and cried for Harold Washington this weekend in a half-dozen languages in every corner of the city he led for more than four years.
But the prayers were also for Chicago – its broad shoulders sagging with grief – and for the man or woman who will replace the 65-year-old mayor who died Wednesday of a heart attack.
“I think the shock is over now, and we are concerned with where do we go from here, and everyone is wondering and pondering,” said the Rev. A. Patterson Jackson of Liberty Baptist Church, 4849 S. King.
His congregation sang a familiar hymn with special meaning Sunday:
Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak but thou art mighty;
Lead me with thy powerful hand.
As memorials were said and sung in churches throughout the day, tens of thousands – including State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley and his mother, Eleanor, widow of former Mayor Richard J. Daley – continued to file past the late mayor’s coffin in City Hall.
In Fernwood United Methodist Church, 10057 S. Wallace, many of those in attendance were wearing blue-and-white Washington campaign buttons, a symbol of hope turned into a sign of loss.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, speaking in the Methodist church, noted that the late mayor initially didn’t want to run for the post in 1983.
“He didn’t realize what God had put in him, that God had a place for him in history,” Farrakhan said, speaking near the late mayor’s picture, which was wreathed in carnations. “Harold was a herald; a herald of a new day. Blessed is he who forges the way for others.
“Harold Washington was not just the mayor of black people. He was the mayor of all the people of this city. He transcended color to affect the lives of many.”
Farrakhan urged the congregation to “wipe your eyes, lift up your head. Will you deny what he built by not going forward?”
“Harold Washington became a man that nobody could wipe away,” he also said. “He was not given his honor; he earned it, he took it.”
In Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, 607 E. Oakwood, a special mass was offered for Washington by the Rev. George Clements, who said, “The mayor showed us how to be true men. . . . We need more black men to step forward and be counted like the mayor did.”
The mayor also was remembered during services in houses of worship ranging from St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 6655 W. Higgins, to the Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W. Menominee.
On the Northwest Side in St. Pascal Roman Catholic Church, 3935 N. Melvina, scene of an outdoor demonstration against Washington during a 1983 campaign visit, there was a moment of silence in his honor and special petition for guidance in selecting a successor.
Prayers were offered in Hebrew Saturday for Washington, his family and friends, “for their continuation of his plans to be carried out by the city,” said Rabbi Abihu Reuben of the Congregation of Ethiopian Hebrews, 6734 S. Aberdeen.
In the Little Village neighborhood, the Rev. Nicanor Aguilar of the Millard Congregational Church, 2301 S. Central Park, preached on “changes that create life.” As a result of Washington’s tenure, he said, “there is more voice now for different ethnic groups of the city – the city itself seems to be more open, more willing to change in
terms of creating new life for our city.”
The service ended in a Spanish and English reading of familiar words “in token of love” for Washington: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The Rev. William White of the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, where a special memorial service will be conducted at noon today, preached on the text “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels.”
“What he had done is proof that a black person could be a mayor – and a good mayor – of the city of Chicago, and that will last forever,” White said. “That fact will last beyond the time City Hall falls into rubble and the State of Illinois Building is shards of glass.”
Day 6: Songs and laughter temper funeral tears
And now he belongs to history.
Chicago gave an emotional sendoff Monday to its first black mayor, Harold Washington, in an upbeat, hand-clapping funeral service that was more joyful than sad, less a mourning over loss than a celebration of thanksgiving – and a call for all Chicagoans to “move as a family in the days ahead.”
“This place is jumpin’!” declared the Rev. B. Herbert Martin, who delivered the eulogy for Washington to an assemblage of some 4,000 people, most of them political celebrities, who jammed the huge Christ Universal Temple at 11901 S. Ashland.
There were tears. But there also were song and laughter, and smiles of happy remembrance.
“Harold was full of fun,” said Martin, the late mayor’s pastor since 1976. “He had a playful humor about himself. And there was nothing more pleasant than seeing that award-winning smile flash across his face, to hear him burst forth in laughter.”
In a 35-minute eulogy that was the high point of the two-hour service, Martin recalled that Washington “could cut a real bad step on the dance floor.” He loved to loudly sing his favorite hymns and ballads, said Martin. “And can’t you just hear him singing on last election night that song, `Chicago, Chicago’?”
“Harold also had a toughness about himself. He was tough. Some folks would even say he’s kind of mean. For a reference on his toughness, call E.V., E.K. and E.B. (former alderman and Democratic chairman Edward R. Vrdolyak, 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman Edmund L. Kelly and 14th Ward Ald. Edward Burke), and they’ll tell you he’s nobody’s pushover. Sometimes Harold would make you think that he was as mean as a junkyard dog.
“But beneath all that toughness – toughness born out of his experience as a black man dealing in tough times, dealing with a tough people, dealing with tough issues of life – beneath all of that toughness was the real Harold: a compassionate, seriously committed human being, warm and gracious and willing to share his all.”
Noting that Washington had a “prolific vocabulary,” Martin said:
“So proficient was he in his articulation, all of us – including his constant friends in the media – had to refer often to our thesaurus or our dictionary to find out whether we had been complimented, informed or insulted by his statements.
“Not only could he speak the king’s English, but he had a working knowledge of the 47th St. black dialect. . . . Harold could fuss and cuss black folks’ style. He knew every idiomatic expression and could readily communicate his feelings at that level as well.
“He knew how to talk with black people, he knew how to talk to black people, he knew how to talk about black people. And, baby, you better believe me – he knew how to talk for black people. He never left home.
“Harold Washington has done all that he can do to help us. . . . He’s left the door of opportunity wide open, and it is up to us to help ourselves – and to help others.”
Church bells across the city tolled at 10 a.m., when the service was to begin, and Chicagoans observed a minute of silence. But it wasn’t until 10:16 that the color guard moved down the aisle to post the American and Chicago flags by the closed coffin that also was covered with an American flag on a bier circled with white blossoms.
The Rev. Kenneth B. Smith, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary, officiated over the ceremony that opened with the singing of “Holy, Holy, Holy” by the Christ Universal Temple Choir.
The call to worship was delivered by the Rev. Johnnie Colemon, minister of the temple, who said that “it is in dying that Mayor Harold Washington is born in eternal life.” And the first of many tributes was offered by Washington’s half-brother, Ramon Price, a curator at the Du Sable Museum of African American History.
“He shall live on,” said Price, “as men, women and children step forward to claim the promise which God intends for all of us – for all of us to be free and seek justice, to share in the task of liberating others, to be compassionate as we bind up the broken-hearted, love and make peace, in a world so often filled with hate and violence.
“And so it is that we must live our lives as members of the whole human family.”
Gov. Thompson quoted remarks spoken by Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in 1839 and repeated at Lincoln’s funeral in 1865:
“Broken by it I too may be, bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”
Thompson drew laughter when he said of Washington: “He gave new meaning to rhetoric. When you were denounced by Harold, you were denounced. . . . He was stubborn. Negotiating with Harold Washington was like dripping water on granite, drop by drop. He was charming. He could charm your socks off.”
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was one of three Democratic presidential candidates at the service, which also was attended by Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.
While Simon and Gephardt sat up front in the audience, Jackson delivered a tribute in which he repeated many of the remarks he made Saturday at Operation PUSH. Noting that an autopsy revealed Washington’s heart was three times normal size, Jackson said:
“He died of an enlarged heart, but not a broken heart. It was enlarged by three, because he had to have a big heart to make room for all of Chicago. He had to have a heart triple the size of a normal man to snatch down barriers, make this our kind of town. We thank God for Harold Washington.”
And referring to the majority Washington finally put together in the 50-member City Council, Jackson said:
“His heart was not broken because he put the pieces together. Those 26 pieces must stay together. His heart, though enlarged, must never be broken. . . . We’ll miss you, buddy.”
Jackson was given a standing ovation. And all the tributes were followed by applause.
The Chicago Housing Authority Ambassadors Choir sang “Keep on Moving,” followed by tributes from Rep. William Gray (D-Pa.), head of the congressional black caucus; Ernest Barefield, the late mayor’s chief of staff; Ald. Timothy Evans (4th), who had been Washington’s floor leader, and Ald. Jesus Garcia (22nd).
Gray said Washington “symbolized a major leap forward in political empowerment for the disinherited and the disadvantaged and for black America.”
Barefield, addressing Washington, said: “Mayor, you opened your arms and let us all in to touch you at the very core of your heart. . . You challenged the presumptions of race. . . . As you visited all corners of this city, both strongholds of support and concentrations of opposition, you helped us all learn how to disagree without hatred, how to compromise with dignity – and how to recognize that our collective futures are truly tied together as one city and as one people.”
Those speakers were later followed by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, read from the New Testament.
The red-robed cardinal read from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, Verses 1-13. “There are in the end three things that last, faith hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.”