Politics: Remembering Harold Washington – Chicago Sun-Times


Almost 35 years after his death, dozens gathered Wednesday morning at the grave of Chicago’s first Black mayor to celebrate his legacy and time in office.

Attended by former members of his staff and longtime supporters, the Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee organized the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side.

Washington served as mayor from 1983 until his death from a heart attack on Nov. 25, 1987. He campaigned on the belief that race mattered. In his first days as mayor, he issued an executive order creating a Freedom of Information Act, giving citizens the right to full and complete information regarding the affairs of the government. He later created the city’s first Ethics Commission.

Carla Carmouche Rogers brought the urns containing her parents’ remains to Wednesday’s ceremony. Her father, Linson Carmouche, was a friend of Washington, dating to the 3rd Ward’s Young Democrats, organized by Washington when he worked for Ald. Ralph Metcalfe Sr. from 1951 until 1965. Rogers worked in Washington’s mayoral scheduling office.

“I felt so proud. I even shed a couple of tears because he was a big part of our life. … There would be times years ago when he was even mayor, and the security detail would stop by my mom and dad’s house to eat dinner,” Rogers said.

“He was a great man, and I truly do miss him.”

Former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Before becoming the city’s first Black mayor, Washington served in the state House, state Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Carla Carmouche Rogers carries the urns of her parents for a photo during a wreath-laying ceremony at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

Carla Carmouche Rogers carries urns containing the remains of her parents, who were longtime friends of Harold Washington. Rogers worked as a scheduler in the mayor’s office.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Members of the Rich Township High School JROTC march with flags in hand during the posting of colors during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

Members of the Rich Township High School JROTC march with flags during the posting of colors.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A photo of Mayor Harold Washington is placed by his gravesite during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

A photo of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington is placed by his grave. As a congressman, Washington was a progressive who drew national attention as a critic of the Reagan administration’s urban policies.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Hay’Lee Young sings the “Star Spangled Banner” and the “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

Hay’Lee Young sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Members of Mayor Harold Washington’s police detail hold up the wreath to be placed on his grave site during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

Members of Mayor Harold Washington’s security detail hold a wreath to be placed on his grave. Washington died Nov. 25, 1987, at age 65.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A photo of Mayor Harold Washington at his gravesite during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

A photo of Mayor Harold Washington at his grave on Wednesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Kristen Taylor performs “If I Can Help Somebody” during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

Kristen Taylor sings “If I Can Help Somebody.”

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Tom Day of Bugles Across America plays TAPS during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. Day also played TAPS at the funeral of Mayor Harold Washington.

Tom Day of Bugles Across America plays “Taps” in honor of Harold Washington, who served in the Army in the Pacific in World War II.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Former staff and supporters of Mayor Harold Washington hold hands during a wreath-laying ceremony for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

Staff and supporters of Mayor Harold Washington hold hands during a wreath-laying ceremony. Washington was an ally of gay and lesbian activists and an advocate for Latinos, poor whites, labor unions and organizers in housing, health care and education.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A photo of Mayor Harold Washington and a wreath adorns the grave site of the former mayor during a wreath-laying ceremony at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.

A photo of Mayor Harold Washington and a wreath adorn his grave.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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