Interview with Nancy Jefferson

Lets talk about Harold a bit more: You were at the point where you were telling me about Harold and your consideration of him as a potential candidate. Condense for me that moment at which you realized that it was possible to elect a Black mayor and that Harold was the man.


Well, eh, what we did was, we were considering what we needed, you know, after all the flurry with Jane Byrne and the disappointment with her and her leadership and, and, and the ChicagoFest, the CHA business, the school business that she had done. And we saw it was just back exactly where it was or even worse, and, ah, we, we began to, to analyze what is it that this city needs, you know. Not only for Black people but for good government. What are we talking about? What, who do we need? Now, what do we need and then we would decide who. So, we began to look at Harold Washington because he had, you know, some one raised the issue that Harold tried it in '77, might be a good candidate. And we began to say let's form a committee that go talk to him. And we did that. Ah, right out of Lu Palmer's house basement. And we formed this committee that, to go talk to Harold. Ah, Harold laid down some tough assignments to us, ah, you know, he said, Oh, you know, ah, first of all, you all got to give me 50 thousand votes to tell me that you're serious about, you know, me, I'm, I'm, I'm in congress. I'm doing fine. I don't need to do this. So, he, he laid down some, some, large, you know, rules and we called them I guess plumb lines and he said, Get me fifty thousand votes and a hundred, and, and, ah, we said, OK, we'll go out and do that. So we went out and did that, you know, this POWER group was already formed, you know. Ah, we, we calculated how many votes that is, you know, with other folks. So, we went out and got the fifty thousand and came back to Harold. Harold said, no, ah, I need, you know, we got to get 100 thousand dollars, you know, to show me your serious. And he laid out then, we, we were doing that and then he said, ah, we, we, got to have a hundred thousand votes, you know. Ah, he really gave us a lot of challenge that we met. We absolutely met them all because we felt, well this is the guy, you know, this is the guy. And, and, and that's how he captured the spirit of the people because we had to work with the CHA, the ordinary people that were, the non voters and, get them registered and get them, you know, registered to vote and all of that and we were working with such a broad spectrum of people, based on what was laid down that would answer to their personal interests, see. It wasn't the man first, it was the condition first. And that's how people got on. And this man was to carry out the condition of the people.