Harold Washington was a Black American born in 1922 in Chicago State, where he lived and schooled. During his lifetime, Harold served as a lawyer fighting for the rights of the Blacks, and in many political positions, including the mayoral position.
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During his tenure in the political arena, Harold championed for the rights of blacks in aspects like employment, gender discrimination, and fairness. Hence, this study examines the main achievements of Harold Washington in the fields of employment, racism, equality in provision of social amenities, gender equality, freedom of expression, and the creation of the ethics commission in the United States.
Main Achievements of Harold Washington
During his time in office, Harold advocated for equal employment opportunities for all citizens in the United States. Harold supported the implementation of the United States Fair Employment Practices Act and the civil rights act, which promised to enhance employment opportunities for Black Americans.
According to Newman (2004), Harold Washington was very instrumental in the fight for equal employment opportunities for all United States citizens. Harold’s fight for increased employment was not only restricted to the white-collar employment, but was also inclusive of job opportunities in the military. In addition, Harold was on the forefront in the implementation and practice of the provisions outlined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned racial discrimination.
Another main objective that Harold fought for was racial discrimination against Black Americans, Latin Americans, and Asians termed as minorities by the Native Americans. During the time of Harold’s political reign, racial discrimination was very prevalent to the extent that some schools, hospitals, and even churches performed their operations in accordance to specific races.
While working in the Illinois senate, Harold used this opportunity to enact and promote the Human Rights Act. The provisions in the Human Rights Act promoted fair and equal treatment of all people living in the United States, regardless of color, nationality, or place of origin (Newman, 2004). The Act was very important as it enabled the Black Americans to receive fair treatment and respect from the Native Americans, who initially discriminated them in terms of race and place of origin.
Equality in Provisions of Social Amenities
During his political reign, Harold witnessed various challenges that were faced by the Blacks and other minorities. The state focused on Native Americans, who were the majority, in the provision of basic services like education, treatment, and accommodation. Harold used his political position to champion for equality in the provision of basic services and ensured that the Blacks and other minorities received fair treatment from state authorities.
Newman (2004) explains that the Human Rights Act promoted increased access to public facilities especially by the Blacks. Additionally, another Act, which campaigned for equality in service provision from the state, was the Civil Rights Act, which campaigned for better housing and accommodation for the Black Americans. Thus, equality in service provision from the state is Harold’s main achievement that greatly benefited the Blacks.
Harold’s fight against gender discrimination became apparent when he worked on the Human Rights Act that promoted equal treatment of all individuals, irrespective of their race, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. Harold argues that all humans are equal and can perform similar tasks if given the opportunity to perform them.
At the time of Harold’s reign, women in the United States were experiencing pronounced discrimination because of their gender. Access to employment, treatment, education, and other services was limited since people viewed women as lesser beings (Newman, 2004). Harold promoted various rights for women such as voting rights, right to use credit cards, employment, and equality.
Freedom of Expression
Freedom of expression was another main achievement attributed to Harold Washington. Through the Human Rights bill, Harold ensured that all individuals in the United States enjoyed freedom of expression on matters regarding marriage, religion, and social issues affecting them.
Newman (2004) states that the Human Rights and Civil Rights Acts were very objective in advocating for freedom of expression in the United States. Remarkably, the beneficiaries of freedom of expression that Harold fought for comprised of both the majority and minority groups living in the United States.
Creation of the Ethics Commission
Harold also promoted the creation of a commission that deals with aspects governing ethics in the United States. The ethics commission advocates for equal treatment and promotion of good relationships among all people regardless of their gender or race (Newman, 2004). The drive to initiate the ethics commission had its basis on good relationship and fair treatment of all citizens.
Harold held frequent gatherings and meetings in the state of Chicago and addressed diverse races and ethnicities in the United States. The meetings were very practical in enhancing the move to implement good ethics among individuals. Therefore, the Black Americans and other minority groups underscore the essence of the ethics commission and the role played by Harold in its creation as part of their long struggle against discrimination.
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The role of Harold Washington in the civil rights movement is important in the history of the United States. Minority groups such as Black Americans will always remember Harold for the numerous Acts that he advocated for during his time in politics. Some of the main points that the minorities remember include his fight for equal employment opportunities, racial non-discrimination, equal provision of social services, gender equality, freedom of expression, and creation of the ethics commission.
Newman, M. (2004). The Civil Rights Movement. New York: Edinburgh University Press.