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Harold Washington was born on April 15, 1922, in Chicago, Illinois. Washington got his start in politics in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he represented the state's 26th District from 1965 to 1976. He went on to serve in the Illinois Senate from 1977 to 1980, and then became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1981-83), representing Illinois' 1st District. In 1983, Washington became the first African-American mayor of Chicago. He was elected to a second term in 1987. Washington died while in office, on November 25,
Born on April 15, 1922, Harold Washington was Chicago's first African-American mayor. He grew up in the city he spent his career trying to help—Chicago. His father was a police officer and a lawyer and his mother was a singer. Washington attended the city's public schools, but he left high school before earning his diploma. In the early 1940s, he went into the military to serve during World War II.
After the war, Washington received a G.E.D. and headed off to college. He earned a bachelor's degree from Roosevelt University in 1949. Continuing his studies, Washington enrolled in law school at Northwestern University. He was the only black man in his class and completed his law degree in 1952.
In 1965, Washington won election to the Illinois House of Representatives. He served the city's 26th District for roughly a decade, supporting legislation to advance equality. Washington also sought to make the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. a statement holiday. Not one tow the party line, he sometimes went against the wishes of his state's Democratic leadership.
In Chicago, Washington's beloved city honored him in many ways after his passing, including renaming Loop College after him. The Harold Washington Library Center is another place that bears his name.
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