The son of a precinct captain for the Chicago political machine, Harold Washington eventually became the first black Mayor of Chicago, a city known for its rough and tumble politics. Born on Saturday, April 15, 1922 at Cook County Hospital, Washington was one of four children born to Roy Lee Washington, Sr. (1897-1953) and Bertha Jones (1898-1980).
In 1952, Washington earned his law degree from Northwestern University. He then served as an Assistant City Prosecutor (Corporation Counsel) from 1954 until 1958 and an Arbitrator for the Illinois Industrial Commission from 1960 until 1964. During these same years he also became politically active, following his father's example to become a Precinct Captain in the 3rd Ward.
From there, Washington rose through the ranks to become an Illinois State Representative, 26th District, 1965-1976; Illinois State Senator, 26th District, 1977-1980; Chicago Mayoral Candidate, 1977 (received 11% of the vote); United States Congressman, 1st District, 1981-1983; and then finally Mayor in 1983.