The University of Chicago News Office
Oct. 21, 2003 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

Harold Washington, His Legacy, Our Future: A Two-Day Symposium on the State of Race and Politics Today

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The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago will present a two-day symposium to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the election of Harold Washington as the first African-American mayor of the city of Chicago. The event will take place on Friday, October 24, 2003 at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark Street (Clark Street and North Avenue), Chicago from 5:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and on Saturday, October 25, 2003 at the University of Chicago’s International House, located at 1414 E. 59th Street, from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Both sessions are free and open to the public.

While the election of Mayor Washington was a historic moment for Black, Latino and progressive forces both locally and nationally, our interests lie in exploring the current racial-political climate of our city and the nation. As discussions around politics in communities of color become more critical with the approaching presidential election, we at the Center believe that there is a need for informed deliberation about the state of contemporary racial politics. This symposium will facilitate such discussions, exploring the changing landscape of racial politics since the election of Harold Washington in 1983.

Day one of the symposium, October 24, will feature a roundtable discussion on the changing state of race and politics since the election of Harold Washington. The event will take place at the Chicago Historical Society, beginning with a reception (with music by Erwin Helfer) and viewing of the exhibition Harold Washington: The Man and The Movement from 5:30 6:30 p.m., followed by our featured roundtable discussion from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m..

The participants on the opening plenary roundtable on October 24thinclude Congressman John Conyers, long-time Harold Washington supporter, activist in Congress on civil rights issues, and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus; Leon Dash, award-winning journalist, author of Rosa Lee, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism (with Lucian Perkins) while at the Washington Post; Jeff Epton, son of Bernard Epton, who ran against Harold Washington in 1983, publisher of In These Times, a national, bi-weekly, progressive magazine, and Executive Director, Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project, 2000-2001; Akiba Solomon, editor-at-large for The Source and contributing writer to ColorLines and; and Maria de los Angeles Torres, associate professor of political science and the Latino/Latin American Studies Program at DePaul University, and former Executive Director of the Commission on Latino Affairs under Harold Washington.

The second day of the symposium, October 25, will focus on race and politics in Chicago. Four hour-long roundtable discussions will take up the following topics: “Movement Politics and the Role of Grassroots Organizations,” “Multiracial Organizing: Past Experience, Future Possibilities,” “Race, Politics and Youth Organizing,” and “Race, Politics and Power in Chicago Today!”

Roundtable participants include: Richard Barnett, Timuel Black, Jim Capraro, State Senator Jackie Collins, TJ Crawford, John Donahue, Jesus (Chuy) Garcia, Sharon Gilliam, Yvonne Lau, Rudi Lozano Jr., Alderman Rick Munoz, Rami Nashishibi, Prexy Nesbitt, Barbara Ransby, Rebecca Sive, Robert Starks, Art Turner, and Laura Washington. The event will take place in the Assembly Hall at the International House on the University of Chicago Campus, located at 1414 East 58th Street, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

This event is co-sponsored by the Chicago Historical Society and the International House Global Voices Program. For additional information contact the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at (773) 702-8063 or

Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Chicago Historical Society at (312) 642-4600 or the Office of Programs and Special Events at International House at (773) 753-2274 or e-mail Their website is
Last modified at 10:46 AM CST on Tuesday, October 21, 2003.

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