There are probably hundreds of thousands of people who have first-hand, shared memories of Harold Washington becoming Chicago’s first black mayor and of Barack Obama becoming the country’s first African-American president. There are certainly several dozen people (at least) who were actively involved in both efforts.
You’d think, then, that more people would pick out the parallels between Washington and Obama’s first terms. Yet, it appears that some important lessons have gone unnoticed. Why bring this up now? Sunday is the 25th anniversary of Washington’s passing. Perhaps it’s as good a moment as ever to consider his crusade and what it meant. Washington’s legacy is, more than anything, to fight for what’s right. (For disclosure, I worked on Washington’s committee on gay and lesbian issues. I also worked on the media team for his 1987 reelection campaign.)