Interview with Slim Coleman

Now, tell me, what was this POWER going to be for, what, what were you moving toward eventually with the right to vote?


Well, I, I, I think when we really started, ah, we wanted to get rid of Byrne, Thompson and Reagan. We wanted to get some respect, ah, on the issues of housing, of whether we were going to be able to stay in the inner city, ah, whether we were going to be gentrified out, on the issues of education, whether it was going to be a dual track, ah, education, one for 10 percent that were going to get, ah, decent jobs and the other 90 percent that were either going to get McDonald's jobs or be moved out. On the issue of health care, where our hospitals were closing and we were denied. All those kind of issues, general assistance, employment, all those questions that we'd been fighting on, ah, I don't it really had consolidated so much around a political plan, ah, but we wanted some power behind those issues. And I think that's why the word power came from the first coalition. At the same time, ah, we had been urging ah, Harold Washington to run, ah, since the spring of 1982. And the, ah, in the back of everybody's minds, even through the summer was, "If we can register enough folks," in fact Harold said, when we asked him to run, he said, ah, he said, "Well, go out and get me 50,000 people and I'll run for mayor." So, in August, we brought him, ah, the first, ah, in Sept- on September the first we brought him copies, ah, to his desk, stacked the copies like this, said, "Here, Congressman, here are 92,000 new registered voters. Now, will you run?" And he said, "Well, I got to think pretty hard about it now." But, ah, so we were definitely moving toward a mayor's race. I think, probably because Byrne had raised expectations and people were so angry that she had really gone back into the machine and, right away, ah, some of them just, ah, very racist things that she had done in terms of the School Board, ah, in terms of the Chicago Housing Authority. The general disrespect to the neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. And this, we used to say Reagan had a trickle down theory and that Byrne had a trickle out theory. That Reagan would kind of trickle down on us and then Byrne would trickle out on us. That meant that build up development in the Loop, ah, and then in the neighborhoods you'll benefit somehow from this. Ah, just like Reagan said, "Let the corporation make a lot of money. Somehow you guys who, that are unemployed out there will benefit." So there had been, there must have 350 demonstrations a year against Jane Byrne at City Hall, right in front of her office. Everybody was focused right on the fifth floor.


OK, lets stop now