Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Black History Month

People sparsely walked the ninth floor of the Harold Washington Library Center on State Street in the South Loop on Friday to view the library’s ongoing exhibit on Harold Washington in honor of Black History Month.
The exhibit, Called To The Challenge: The Legacy Of Harold Washington, focuses on three major themes: Washington’s life, image and work not only as the first African American mayor of Chicago, but also as a member of the Chicago community.
“I was just walking around the library and happened to run into this exhibit,” Mallory McCall, 20, of the South Loop said. “I had no idea that this was going on, but it is a wonderful way for people to remember the past and celebrate the present and the future.”
The present and the future was on many attendees minds, which our current first African American President, who knows what the future holds. The exhibit is drawn largely from the Harold Washington Archives and Collections of the Special Collections and Preservation Division of the Chicago Public Library and features photos as well as an overview of important projects initiated during Washington’s tenure.
“It’s wonderful to see such forward thinking from the first African American mayor,” Andrew Johnson, 23, of Logan Square, said. “It really shows that we are where we are today because of people like Mayor Washington.”
Of the showcased projects was the Human Rights Act of 1970, which re-wrote all of the human rights laws in Illinois and restricted discrimination based on, "race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, or unfavorable discharge from military service in connection with employment, real estate transactions, access to financial credit, and the availability of public accommodations," according to the document.
When the bill passed in May of 1979 a lot of the credit was given to Washington for his non-combative presentation to the rest of the Senate.
“I think looking back at Harold Washington’s life and legacy is a great way to celebrate Black History Month,” Johnson said. “It shows us how far we have come and how far we still have left to go.”

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