“He was a bachelor most of his life and his apartment was a mess: clothes all over the place, books, magazines old newspapers, position papers, mimeographed fliers from the neighborhood. His suits were rumpled and his ties were stained. For as long as anyone can remember, even back to boyhood, he was reading all the time.”
“‘I remember Harold Washington when he lived in an apartment over a liquor store at 47th and Cottage Grove. It was probably in the ‘50s. He had one room up there. I was playing piano at a place called Killer Johnson’s Archway Lounge across the street and Harold came in all the time. I don’t remember him as a big drinker in those days. He would sit in a black booth with Killer Johnson and sometimes the Jones brothers; the South Side policy kings would be there and they would talk politics. We liked it because they would give us tips for playing special requests. I later found out from people in the neighborhood that, if someone got in trouble, Harold would give them legal advice free of charge. Harold was an eloquent speaker and I remember George Dunne, the Democratic Party chairman, once told me tat Harold was the smartest man who ever walked the floors of City Hall.’”
-Russ Ewing, jazz pianist who would later become one of Chicago’s top television reporters.
“On Nov. 10 at the Hyde Park Hilton Hotel, Harold Washington announced that he would seek the Democratic Party nomination for mayor of Chicago. His fiancee and longtime companion, Mary Ella Smith, joined him. Washington declared that the city that works doesn’t work anymore and Chicago was a city in decline. Although some white elected officials were on hand, the majority of the crowd was black. Washington said his jailing for failure to file tax returns was behind him and his life was an open book.
“Renault Robinson, head of the African American Police Organization, was named the campaign manager. Robinson had played a key role in securing radio advertising for the Black voter registration drive. Pat Caddell, who gained fame as President Jimmy Carter’s pollster, joined the Washington team. Bill Zimmerman was the media consultant. Lu Palmer, who engineered Washington’s candidacy, called the campaign a crusade. He said he felt a religious fervor out in the community.”
“At Washington headquarters in the McCormick Inn, just south of the Loop, the celebration was going gangbusters. Several thousand people had gathered and more were coming as the news spread. Traffic was becoming snarled on Lake Shore Drive. A woman in the crowd said prophetically, “Now we can go for president.” It was past midnight and the crowd was excited. A master of ceremonies asked them to be patient and reminded them that there was another election to go in April. Rev. Jesse Jackson dominated the stage most of the evening of waiting. ‘We want it all,’ he proclaimed to the crowd.