Site of Eugene Sawyer's “Inauguration” – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Site of Eugene Sawyer's “Inauguration”

Parking lot where a Chicago mayor was inaugurated under very sketchy circumstances. 


When Chicago mayor Harold Washington died suddenly a tumultuous scuffle immediately began within city council confines as to whom should replace the leader in the interim.

Opinions were split between two black aldermen, Eugene Sawyer and Timothy Evans. When a meeting was called by Timothy Evans’ supporters Sawyer’s party declined to attend thus launching the tensions between the two groups. Debates over the two candidates quickly became heated and shady dealings were thick on the ground. Then, in the early morning hours of December 2nd, 1987 using back alley channels including, allegedly, promises for six-figure retirement plans Sawyer’s supporters were able to secure the vote, 29-19, just before dawn in the parking lot of a closed restaurant. His secret and shady inauguration was met with angry protests from minorities and progressives with many people accusing him of selling out to white politicians.

To his credit, during his tenure as Chicago’s Mayor Sawyer was able to pass several major initiatives begun by Washington such as one of the first human rights ordinances that protected the LGBT community from discrimination and an Ethics Ordinance to prevent corruption. 

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September 10, 2010

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