Interview with Jane Byrne

OK. Tell us what you intended to accomplish.


My, wha--the main thing I wanted to accomplish is that I wanted to open the city up. I wanted to open it, let it breathe and, what I said that night is the city ventilated. And I wanted to see that happen. And I didn't want to see the suppression, I didn't want to see this closed, "captive city" as someone had once written, because I believe that it was. I believed it from my toes to my head. And I believe it to this day. Ah. To me, that meant fixing the things that needed to be fixed--in an open way. Maybe too open. But, I had seen housing on Sixty-third Street that was, you know, should have been ripped down ten years before. I wanted to see it come down. I wanted to see children playing on a sidewalk, which I saw, without balconies hanging off buildings over their heads. I wanted to see people in public housing have a more decent lot. And I didn't want them ever again to be afraid that if some candidate like Jane Byrne stood up to The Machine that they'd be told "If you vote for that woman, you're gonna lose your apartment." I wanted to see those things end. If you call that reform, I accept reform. The practical side of the government, however, is having the votes to get those buildings torn down. And to have the issuance of the money by working with a council to get your twenty-six. You need your twenty-six. If you don't get your twenty-six, nothing happens. Harold Washington went through the first two and a half years of his term in a battle with the council and very little was accomplished, ah, foll--excepting for what he fought for and that was the way he wanted it and the representation for that Black community was going to be done. That he accomplished.