Interview with Jane Byrne



I'm not sure it was even smart, and it wasn't my decision. It was the--the thought of most of the advisors. Um. There were two things happening with the media. One, they did not take Harold Washington serious at all. Two, things were happening to me, and I assume Daley, when we would go into the White--the Black community. Jesse Jackson had m-made a statement at Operation Push the Saturday before the rally, two weeks before that woe be to any Black minister that allowed the White candidates into their churches, which put them in a bind because a lot of the Black churches were city funded. Ah. Second of all, just by my own conversations with the managers of television stations, when they'd say to me, "When's the fight going to start?" And I'd say, "There isn't going to be a fight." This was at Christmas. They'd say, "Why not?" I'd say, "It's a three-way race. I'm caught in the middle." They'd say, "Harold Washington?" And I'd say, "Look, see who do you hang on right now? Prime time. Three stations. Harold Washington down at the prisons. OK? Working hard. Sending a message, a strong message. He went to the prisons." And they, they, the, the, the general manager thought I was crazy. And I said, "I'm telling you I am not the least bit afraid of Daley. Harold is the candidate to beat." No one believed it. No one. And everybody was in shock that night when it happened. Now along those lines while we polled the Thursday before we asked the entire city of Chicago, "Do you think you can get a Black mayor?" Eighty percent said never. So the change that took place the Saturday before, which I think might even have been the three points if we, I'd done it my way, but these were pros, was that we had to get on TV the emotion that was really taking place in the Black community so that people began to say, "Harold is a real challenge here. It's not Daley," because the old machine and that part of it that belonged to Daley was pumping up that he could still win. And he'd been out of the race since December 7th. So they wanted to get this message out. So my press secretary made an announcement that I was canceling --to this day I think it was stupid--that I was canceling all my stops in the White community. All of them. And I was going strictly to the Black community to shore up my vote with the thought if I went nowhere else under equal time, they would have to put on what was really happening out there to Jane Byrne when she went into the Black community. And it was violent what happened. To go to Cabrini Green, I mean, everything from human excrement was thrown out the window at me. And to try to walk across the lawns where the kids were that I had loved and see the basketball courts and the baseball courts that I'd put in--I mean, forget it. You know, forget it. Harold, Harold, Harold. White bitch. You know, everything. You name it, I had it. And they wanted that on the tube. And that way they r--thought people would, would know, OK? That, that we've got a real race here. Forget this Daley business. And so we went with that. When I say I think it was stupid is there were people lined up all over the north side, my base, OK? Rallies that were planned for the last weekend. I didn't show. And that was because the two things with the media--A, they didn't take Harold seriously, and B, they did not want to be perceived as showing rac--racial things. So while they were happening they would not get on. And therefore, that was the feeling of the consultants. I felt I insulted too many north side people by not showing up. Coffee parties, rallies, church rallies. You don't go. So that was that. The following morning, Sunday, I get up early. I look at the headline in the Tribune and Chairman Vrdolyak has made a statement--Now, we're holding our own well Sunday. Real well. We're not going to be 22, but we're going to win it. He has made a statement at a, what he thought was a closed meeting of precinct captains on the north side: "Don't kid yourself. This election is about race," said he. And it's the headline and it's now the news all day Sunday. The Black support that I had at that time was still in the projects and independents on the lake front. And when he challenged them, "this election is about race," Sunday, the numbers that night dropped another--whatever we were, sixteen to eight in the Black community. That's what did it.