Thousands Pay Last Respects To Harold Washington
CHICAGO (AP) _ Thousands of tearful mourners filed into City Hall throughout the night and into the gray, drizzly morning Saturday to pay their last respects to Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor.
And, in another sign of mourning, a riderless horse led the city’s annual McDonald’s Charity parade.
Across town, Jesse Jackson, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, eulogized Washington before a crowd of more than 1,000 during a memorial service at Operation PUSH headquarters.
Jackson, who cut short a visit to the Middle East when Washington died, called him ″a friend, a brother, a leader.″
″With Harold we won against the odds, the Red Sea was divided, we got across. ... He broke the old machine of exclusion and built a new rainbow organization of inclusion,″ Jackson said.
The civil rights activist was accompanied by three black aldermen who have been mentioned as possible successors to Washington, who died of a heart attack Wednesday at the age of 65.
Jackson did not offer an endorsement, but urged unity in choosing a replacement for Washington, who was in his fifth year in office.
At City Hall, some mourners dropped little mementoes on a table at the foot of Washington’s casket: a single, wilting rose; a small cross; a worn blue political button like those thousands wore when Washington campaigned successfully against the regular Democratic organization.
″It’s very pitiful,″ said a somber middle-age black woman, who identified herself only as G. Malone. ″It was a very great loss . .. He was a good man.″
Steady rain failed to deter the stream of mourners, most of them middle-age blacks for whom Washington symbolized pride and hopes for a better deal for minorities.
Hundreds of whites also came to grieve.
Alton Miller, Washington’s press secretary, said 120,000 people filed past the mayor’s body between 4 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.
Former Mayor Jane Byrne was one of the visitors Friday, spurning the VIP entrance and waiting 2 1/2 hours in line.
It was unfortunate, she said, that Washington didn’t have ″two or three″ terms ″to accomplish his dreams.″ Washington defeated her and a third Democrat in the 1983 primary, and halted her comeback bid in the primary earlier this year.
Even out-of-towners were among the mourners.
″I think he was a really good mayor, with a lot of really good ideas,″ said Crystal Baller, 24, of Joliet. ″But he didn’t get a chance to use them.″
Anne Wiberg, 49, a suburbanite, said: ″I was really proud of him. He helped a lot of minorities and that’s what we need in this day and age.″
Washington’s body was to lie in state until late Sunday. His funeral is set for Monday.