Past Event

Forging a Rainbow Coalition: The Legacy of Harold Washington

Join us for an exciting program exploring the life and legacy of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American mayor. Washington’s candidacy forged political unity and independence from the Chicago machine. But more than that, he inspired a progressive movement that crossed racial and cultural lines. With the campaign for the presidency in full swing, what does Harold’s campaign tell us about forging a new Rainbow Coalition today?

This conversation will feature Salim Muwakkil, senior editor at In These Times and author of the new book Harold! Photographs from the Harold Washington Years, and Alden Loury, editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter. Rudy Lozano Jr. and Nzinga Hill, two activists who grew up during the Harold Washington years, will also join this conversation.


Salim Muwakkil
is a senior editor of In These Times, where he has worked since 1983. He is currently a Crime and Communities Media Fellow of the Open Society Institute, examining the impact of ex-inmates and gang leaders in leadership positions in the black community. He is the host of the “Salim Muwakkil Show” on WVON, a Chicago-based radio station that provides an interactive forum for the African-American community to discuss current, social, economic, and political issues. He also serves as a member of the Steering Committee of the Harold Washington Commemorative Year and is a member of the Advisory Committee for The Public Square at the IHC. Muwakkil is the author of Harold! Photographs of the Harold Washington Years and is working on a documentary titled Chicago Gangs: An American Story. He has won a variety of journalism awards including the “Top Ten Media Heroes of 1994,” from the Institute of Alternative Journalism, the “Black Rose Achievement Award for 1997,” from the League of Black Women, and the 2001 Studs Terkel Award for Journalistic Excellence from the Chicago-based Community Media Workshop.

Alden K. Loury is the editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter. He joined the magazine in 1999 as a reporter and won local and national awards for his work examining the effectiveness of community policing and projects documenting racial disparities in drug sentencing, jury selection, and jury verdicts. As senior editor from 2002 to 2007, Loury led more than 50 investigative projects examining the impact of race and poverty in lottery ticket sales, retail leakage in black neighborhoods, residential development surrounding the sites of demolished public housing and home mortgage lending, among others. He became editor and publisher on January 1, 2008. Prior to joining the Reporter, Loury covered government and social services for three years at The News-Gazette in Champaign. Loury is a 1997 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A Chicago native, Loury grew up in the LeClaire Courts public housing development and the South Side’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.

Rudy Lozano Jr. has worked as a youth mentor, community organizer, and high school teacher. He currently works with the Little Village Community Development Corporation coordinating after-school programs for students, parents and community residents at the Little Village Lawndale High School. He is the eldest son of the late Rudy Lozano Sr., whose work to build Black, Latino, and Progressive White Unity played a critical role in electing Harold Washington in 1983.

Nzinga Hill is a freshman history teacher at Morgan Park High School.

This Know More: Conversations That Matter program is co-sponsored by The Public Square at the IHC, Southwest Youth Collaborative, and the Harold Washington Commemorative Year.


The Southwest Youth Collaborative has touched the lives of many people in different ways. Cultivating the critical minds and nurturing the tender hearts of our young people is of the utmost importance. Our mission is to unleash the potential of youth from diverse racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds to become actively contributing members of society through initiatives that engage young people in working for a better world. To this end, our programs work to build self-esteem, personal and social growth, cooperation, leadership, cross-cultural understanding, and community awareness. At the same time, our organizing efforts work to build youth and community power in decision-making processes affecting children, youth, and families.

The Harold Washington Commemorative Year is an Illinois non-profit organization established to observe two important anniversaries: November 25, 2007 (the 20th anniversary of Harold’s sudden, untimely death) and April 12, 2008 (the 25th anniversary of his historic, tumultuous election as the first black mayor of Chicago). Six months of free public programming is being presented throughout the city to remember Harold and analyze his legacy. This event is one of many scheduled for the 2008 portion of the Commemorative Year’s calendar.

This event is part of The Public Square at the IHC‘s Know More: Conversations That Matter series. The Know More series is designed to bridge the gap between the arts and social issues that are of current concern to Chicago’s Englewood and Humboldt Park communities. It is made possible by a grant from The Joyce Foundation, and Chicago Public Radio is the media sponsor.

Free and open to the public. Reservations not required. For more information, call 312.422.5580.