Monday, October 7, 2013

Harold Washington, Mayor of Chicago, has Lawrence County Roots

The following information comes from ongoing research of Black History in Lawrence County. This information is taken from a book called the Ancestry of Mayor Herald Washington, written by Curtis Brasfield in 1993. Thanks to Larry C for providing these photos and article.

 Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago on April 12, 1983 and served until November 25th, 1987 when he died in office.

Harold Washington was born in Chicago on April 15th, 1922, the son of Roy and Bertha Washington. Roy L. Washington (father of Harold) was born in Lovelaceville, Ballard Co. Kentucky on April 12th, 1897, the son of Mack and Arbella Washington. Mack Washington (Harold's grandfather) became a minister in the A.M.E. Church and the family rnoved about as Mack received assignments to various churches. ln 1916 they were living in Pinkstaff, Lawrence County lL and son, Roy was attending Lawrenceville Township High School in Lawrenceville.

Mack and Arbella's home in Pinkstaff became the site of an event important enough to be reported in the local newspaper. The Lawrenceville Republican of 11 November, 1915 reports as follows:
      Last night shortly after retiring, Reverend Washington was suddenly aroused frorn his slumber by a knock at the door.  On opening the door to investigate, a crowd of people rushed in, each with a large package. Of course the surprised minister knew what this meant after a while. This is what is known as a surprise pound party.Those who brought pounds were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Tann, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Clingman, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Casey, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wimberly, Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Goins, Mrs. Elihue Anderson, Blanch Portee, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Tompkins, Mr. and Mrs. Jeff  Valls, Mr. and Mrs.Curtis Anderson, Mrs. Harl Portee, Troy Anderson, Lewis Harris, Doc Anderson, Mr. and Mrs.Robert Portee, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. James Morris and Misses Evelyn and Martha Morris. Reverend Washington fully enjoyed such a surprise as this and did not feel in the least offended. (A "pound party'' was when everyone brought a pound of various food items such as flour, sugar, meat, etc.) 
Several people mentioned above have descendants living in Lawrence County today. (2013).

Reverend Mack had been instrumental in raising money and then building St. James A.M.E. Church in Lawrenceville. The first services were held there on August 10, 1916, with Reverend Mack Washington officiating. Mack served as minister at Bethel A.M.E.Pinkstaff, and St. James A.M.E. Churches until 1922. Upon leaving Lawrenceville Mack pastored churches in Decatur and Springfield, lllinois. Reverend Mack Washington died at the home of another son, Booker, on April 28th 1957, in St. Louis Missouri.

(Story of the Washington family continued tomorrow)