The DuSable Museum of African American History

A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story

A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story

Mayor Washington Speaks

“Hi, I am Harold Washington and welcome to my office. This is the story of my time as a public servant, representing the good people of Illinois…” The words, accomplishments, and likeness of Harold Washington, the 42nd Mayor of the City of Chicago, come to life in the new exhibition, A Slow Walk To Greatness: The Harold Washington Story. The exhibition opened officially on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 (the 172nd Birthday of the City of Chicago) at the Museum which is located at 740 East 56th Place (57th Street at South Cottage Grove Avenue) in Chicago’s Washington Park.

Animatronic Likeness of Mayor Washington

A Slow Walk To Greatness takes a closer look into the life and legacy of Harold Washington, twenty years after the death of the city’s first African American Mayor. Featuring more than 150 artifacts, objects, campaign memorabilia and even archival footage, the exhibition will afford a new generation of Chicagoans the opportunity to learn about the tremendous impact that Mayor Washington had on the city and the country. At the center of the exhibition is an animatronic likeness of Mayor Washington. Washington once again “sits” behind the desk that he used while serving as a State Representative in Springfield, Illinois, and “talks” to visitors summarizing the history of the City of Chicago when he served as Mayor.

Coming Together for Change

“The new exhibition is a timely story that is designed to educate our visitors about the importance of Harold Washington; what it meant not only to Chicago having its first Black Mayor, but setting a precedence of how such a polarized city can come together for change,” says DuSable Museum chief curator and curator of the exhibition Charles E. Bethea. “With the recent historic election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African American President, young people today need to realize that without a Harold Washington breaking down racial barriers in 1983, it would have been that much harder for a Barack Obama to rise in 2008.”

Harold Washington Wing

In 1993, the DuSable Museum expanded its facility with the addition of a new wing. That wing bears the name of the 42nd Mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington. The wing opened with a comprehensive exhibition on the former Mayor, but at the close of that exhibition it was reduced to a smaller version that remained on view. The new permanent installation takes a closer look into the life and legacy of Harold Washington.

Exhibit Sponsors

A Slow Walk To Greatness: The Harold Washington Story is made possible by the Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs City Arts III Program, United Airlines, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

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This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events

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