​November 25, 1987: Mayor Harold Washington Died At 65 

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Harold Washington (born Harold Lee Washington) was a lawyer, politician and the 51st Mayor of Chicago. He was the 1st African-American Mayor of Chicago, serving from 1983 until his death in 1987. He was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1983 representing the Illinois first district.

DEATH: At 11:00 a.m., Chicago Fire Department paramedics were called to City Hall. Mayor Harold Washington’s press secretary, Alton Miller, had been discussing school board issues with the mayor when Washington suddenly slumped over on his desk, falling unconscious. After failing to revive Washington in his office, paramedics rushed him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Further resuscitation attempts failed, and Washington was pronounced dead at 1:36 p.m.

At Daley Plaza, Richard Keen, project director for the Westside Habitat for Humanity, announced Washington’s official time of death to a separate gathering of Chicagoans. Initial reactions to the pronouncement of his death were of shock and sadness, as many blacks believed that Washington was the only top Chicago official who would address their concerns. Thousands of Chicagoans attended his wake in the lobby of City Hall between November 27 and November 29, 1987.

On November 30, Rev. B. Herbert Martin officiated Washington’s “upbeat, hard-clapping funeral service” in Christ Universal Temple at 119th Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago. After the service, Washington was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side of Chicago.

Read more about his legacy at: Daily Black History Facts

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