Washington, Harold(1922–87) U.S. representative, mayor; born in Chicago. A decorated air force veteran of World War II, he was a member of the Illinois legislature (1966–76), the state senate (1978–80), and the U.S. House of Representatives (Dem., Ill.; 1981–83). Running for mayor of Chicago as a Democrat, but largely without party backing, he defeated Bernard Epton to become the city's first African-American mayor (1984–87). In the 1987 election, with voting going largely along racial lines (and with both sides accused of fraud), Washington won over former mayor Jane Byrne's challenge but he died before he could begin a second term.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.