Interview with Lu Palmer

Harold Washington hoped young people would get involved--


You see, to really understand the importance of Harold's election, you have to understand what both the campaign and the victory did to people, to Black people. Young, I mean 3, 4, 5, 6 year-old kids, so proudly displaying the Harold Washington button. And, you know, during that period of time hardly nobody called him Harold Washington, it was Harold. It was just Harold. And, and I'll tell you a story about them buttons which became button mania. The campaign was so bogged down in what color the button is going to be, what are they going to say, it took, took them weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks to get any buttons on the street. So two or three of the campaign workers designed a button, paid for the button and all of a sudden, there were maybe a thousand or more with that sunburst, blue with a sunburst, and everybody was struggling to get a button. So, while the campaign was trying to figure out what the button ought to be, these three or four campaign workers designed the button which came, became the major official button of the Harold Washington campaign. Man, you, you could not walk in the loop or in, in neighborhoods without seeing thousands of Harold Washington buttons. And people just became energized. On election day I'm in my office and an old man walked in on, ah, those walkers and said, "Could I just rest for a minute?" I said, "Certainly." He said, I said, "Are you on your way to vote?" He said, "Yes." I said, "We'll take you to the polls." You know what that man said? He said, "No, I want to go on my own and vote for that boy."** You know, that, that touched me so. So, you know, we had people going to the, to the polls in wheelchairs. We had people get out of their sick beds because the mood had hit. It was the thing about, ah, a time, an idea whose time has, had come. Clearly, it had come. And when Harold Washington announced on November the 10th, 1982 that he was going to run, a whole city was transformed. And I remember so clearly the date because that's the same day that my sponsor of my radio show fired me because I had been too, too, pushing too hard for a Black mayor. So, it's, it, it was a, it was an experience that cannot adequately be described. It gave so many of us hope and Lord knows we need hope.


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