Harold Washington, 2004
Ed Dwight, Jr.
At the entrance of the Harold Washington Cultural Center
4701 South King Drive
This 20-foot sculpture pays homage to the late Harold Washington (1922 – 1987), the city's first African-American mayor. Washington grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of the city and earned degrees from Roosevelt University and Northwestern University School of Law. After serving in both the Illinois House and Senate, in 1980 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Illinois' 1st congressional district. During the 1983 Democratic mayoral primary, the white vote was split between the incumbent mayor Jane Byrne and Richard M. Daley, son of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. Washington won with 37 percent of the vote. Present at the unveiling of this statute in August 2004 was the then Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Dwight (born 1953), has created more than 100 public art commissions located throughout the United States, including Rosa Parks, Alex Haley, Miles Davis, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A native of Kansas City, Kansas, he served as a military fighter pilot and was chosen by President John F. Kennedy to enter training as an Experimental Test Pilot in preparation to become the first African American Astronaut candidate. While he completed the course, he left the military for civilian life after the death of President Kennedy. He had little formal art training, but in 1974 was commissioned by the Colorado Centennial Commission to create a series of bronzes entitled Black Frontier in the American West that earned him acceptance and critical acclaim as a sculptor.