Interview with Slim Coleman

Tell me about how the power of registration snuck up on people, they didn't see it coming.


I think that, you know, the machine had had such total control over the vote, ah, in, ah, in Chicago for so many years, ah, except, with the exception of 1972 when Hanrahan was defeated here. I think they never took us seriously. They thought we were just some ragtag protestors and probably weren't more than a few hundred of us in the whole city. And I think they never thought we could get together citywide in any kind of way, so when we started registering people to vote, they said, "Well, you'll never get people to register." Well, when we'd registered a quarter of a million people to vote, ah, then they said, ah, "Well, you'll never get them to vote." So then, we in November, ah, gubernatorial election when they all voted. Then they said, "Well, you'll never get them to vote for Harold." It was like they really just could not believe it. I remember one of the reporters, ah, saying, ah, "Slim, yesterday you were a nutball and today you're a civic leader," based on the fact that 150,000 people had gotten registered in a few weeks. I think they really were shocked. They didn't believe that they would register. They didn't believe that people would vote and they certainly didn't believe that they were organized for a successful campaign in 1983.