Date Of Production
Third of four reels that were compiled in the video "Chicago Politics: A Theater of Power." Observational documentary following the 1987 Chicago Mayoral election, with a focus on the Democratic Primary between Jane Byrne and Harold Washington and the Republican primary between Don Haider and Bernard Epton. Loose and anecdotal, it features footage from public appearances, civic events, protests, street campaigning, a Neo-Nazi rally, and Harold Washington's inauguration.
The footage opens to a handheld portrait of Harold Washington, garnished with orange flowers on the day of his winning the Mayoral Election in 1983. An audio bit can be heard leading a prayer; the accompanying images feature the excitement of Inauguration day. The military guard can be seen saluting outside Navy Pier.
Next, Aaron Freeman, a political satirist, performs the “dark side of the clout.” at an event. The following images depict Washington at a softball game and then he is seen addressing his critic Edward Vrdolyak. The footage then goes on to show an interview with man dressed up as Uncle Sam on rollerblades at a Fourth of July Parade taking place Downtown. The man says that “ ...We should all be proud to be Americans living in a free country”. The footage then offers a quick glimpse of the Chicago River being dyed green for St. Patricks Day.
The following shots portray a protest; children can be seen holding Palestinian flags and posters reading “Stop Killing Children.” This is accompanied with a another shot of a group of children holding posters reading “por Nuestro Futuro! (for Our future!)” in support of Harold Washington. There is a brief interlude of a man singing on Michigan Avenue.vThe scene changes to feature Edward Vrdolyak on stage addressing accusations of racism.
The subsequent images present Jane Byrne conducting a press conference at the Cabrini Green housing project. Then, a “Jane Byrne For Mayor In Chicago…1987” banner that fills the frame. This segues into the events of the St. Patricks Day Parade. The following images depict a fire truck decorated in green “Jane Byrne for Mayor ’87" clover-fields. Then, Illinois governor James Thompson appears in the midst of the parade. He is shown enthusiastically shaking the hands of parade members and staff. The scene switches to show gubernatorial candidate Adlai Stevenson speaking at River Forest High School in Oak Park.
At a White Supremacist event, the footage depicts Neo-Nazi demonstrators, their supporters, and counter demonstrators in Marquette Park, a neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side. White power signs, swastikas, and chants of “KKK all the way” fill the frame. The following shot presents a counter-protester speaking fervently to the press; “Black people died in Korea and Vietnam for the rights to have that park [Marquette Park],” he says. The subsequent images show him leading a march; he says “Marquette Park must be free.”
The footage goes on to present Art Jones, aldermanic candidate and KKK member. Jones is seen being interviewed by news media at a White Supremacist rally. Jones refers to Harold Washington as “our black faggot communist mayor.” He goes on to say, “We call on white people, even black people, to oppose any candidate if they come out in favor of homosexual rights.” The next shot portrays a person dressed as the Statue of Liberty at a political rally for Washington; the footage quickly alternates to the previous rally where the driver of truck adorned in racist emblems can be seen planning a driving route with a police officer through the city via LaSalle Street.
Back at Washington’s rally, he can be seen on stage describing his defeat of the “Eddies” (Edward Vyrdolyak and Edward M. Burke). Washington decries “No one in this city … is free from the fairness of our administration! … We’ll find you and be fair to you no matter where you are!”. At another political event, Washington can be seen taking photographs with each of his supporters.
After this, the camera moves to snowy streets where Jane Byrne gets out of her car to meet supporters. Next, Donald Haider can be seen on the campaign trail reading to a group of children with press nearby.
The subsequent series of images feature Sheila Jones, a mezzosoprano and Lyndon LaRouche supporter running on a "Stop AIDS" platform. The footage captures Jones's campaigners downtown. They can be seen handing out flyers in traffic and wearing “Sheila Jones says Stop AIDS” posters. The camera focuses on a parked van, decorated in Sheila Jones signage and emitting opera through its speakers. The shot changes to depict Sheila Jones and Robert Moon, an American physicist, promoting “cheap energy for all" at a press conference. The shot then switches back to the parked van that is now promoting Sheila Jones’s spot on Channel 9 later that evening.
Outside City Hall, a Republican activist complains to news media about the Republican party favoring Donald Haider over candidates like Bernard Epton. The next sequence of images show Haider making his appeal for Mayor at a press conference within his campaign office; Haider proposes to debate with other non-Democratic candidates. A later shot captures Haider (a former Democrat) riding an elephant in a publicity stunt for the GOP.
The concluding images of the film capture Harold Washington speaking to a gaggle of reporters, Washington sends holiday blessings to everyone except his opponents in the next mayoral election, telling them instead to “drop dead.”
29 min 45 sec
Has Been Digitized?
Language Of Materials
Participants And Performers
Smith, Mary Ella