How can I analyze Harold Washington's acceptance speech from April 12th, 1983? He was the first black mayor of Chicago. What is the main idea of the speech? What examples prove it?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harold Washington, who was the first African-American person to be elected mayor of Chicago in 1983, gave a speech in which he celebrated the ability of his campaign to bring together a coalition of people who were generally outside the political process. He said, speaking of his fight to win the election, "We fought it, with unseasoned weapons and with a phalanx of people who mostly have never been involved in a political campaign before." His reference to "unseasoned weapons" means that his supporters largely came from outside the political process and had not been involved actively with politics before the campaign. 

In his speech, Washington stressed the diversity and breadth of his coalition, saying, "Our government will be moving forward as well, including more people. And more kinds of people, than any government in the history of Chicago." Alluding to John Winthrop's famous "City Upon a Hill" sermon in which Winthrop said the Puritans in the 17th century would be an example for the rest of the world, Washington said, "The whole nation is watching as Chicago is so powerful in this!" In other words, the democratic and diverse coalition that brought him to power would be an example to other cities. 

Later in the speech, Washington compared the difficult election that he had won to a "crucible" and referred to the different types of people who had supported his campaign in the largest voter turnout in the history of the city: "Blacks. Whites. Hispanics. Jews. Gentiles. Protestant and Catholics of all stripes." He then compared this broad coalition to a "moving river of mankind" and promised to revitalize his city with the force of this river.

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