|53rd Mayor of Chicago|
December 2, 1987 – April 24, 1989
|Preceded by||David Duvall Orr|
|Succeeded by||Richard M. Daley|
September 3, 1934|
|Died||January 19, 2008
|Resting place||Oak Woods Cemetery|
Eugene Sawyer (September 3, 1934 – January 19, 2008) was an American businessman and politician who served as Mayor of Chicago, Illinois (1987–1989) as a member of the Democratic Party. He was the second African American to serve as mayor of Chicago.
Sawyer was born in Greensboro, Alabama and studied at Alabama State University. After graduating, he had a brief stint as a chemistry and mathematics teacher in Prentiss, Mississippi, before moving to Chicago to do laboratory work in 1957. Sawyer became involved with the 6th Ward Regular Democratic Organization and the Young Democrats through family friends. In 1959, Sawyer took a job in Chicago’s Department of Water, where he worked until 1971.
Alderman and Mayor
In 1971, Sawyer was elected Alderman of Chicago's 6th Ward. By 1987, he was the longest-serving black alderman on the Chicago City Council, when the sudden death of Harold Washington created a vacancy in the position of mayor. Washington's tenure had created of a coalition of minority and progressive council members who were poised to enact a program of reforms when he died unexpectedly. Many believed that coalition had chosen another Washington supporter, Alderman Timothy Evans, to replace him. The City Council elected Sawyer mayor in a tumultuous and lengthy meeting. Sawyer took over from interim mayor David Duvall Orr. Sawyer's inauguration for mayor occurred in the parking lot of a closed restaurant at North and Bosworth Avenues at 4:01 am on December 2, 1987, in an effort to avoid public demonstration.
During his time as mayor, Sawyer worked to pass legislation supporting the installation of lights at Wrigley Field and the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance banning indoor smoking. Building on groundwork laid under Mayor Washington, Sawyer also championed the Human Rights Ordinance, passed in 1988, to protect individuals against discrimination. This was the first Chicago city ordinance to assert the rights of gay and lesbian Chicagoans.
But Sawyer did not win Chicago's mayoral election in 1989. In the 1989 Democratic primary for Chicago’s mayor, Richard M. Daley defeated incumbent Eugene Sawyer as well as Lawrence Bloom, Sheila Jones and James C. Taylor.
Retirement from politics and death
Sawyer was defeated by Richard M. Daley at the 1989 election, and subsequently retired from politics. After retiring, he became involved in the business community once again. Sawyer was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and an active member of the Vernon Park Church of God.
Sawyer died on Saturday, January 19, 2008 at approximately 11 PM after a series of strokes and other health setbacks over the previous month. Public viewing for Sawyer took place on January 25 and his funeral took place on January 26 followed by burial at Oak Woods Cemetery, the same cemetery where Harold Washington is buried.
- Crawford, Jan (December 7, 1987). "Sawyer Grew Up 757 Miles and a World Away From Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
- Courtney, Meghan; Fuqua, Dominique. "Biographical Note". Eugene Sawyer Mayoral Records Finding Aid. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
- "Eugene Sawyer Biography". The Historymakers. January 29, 2003. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- Wilkerson, Isabel (December 3, 1987). "MAN IN THE NEWS; A Calm Voice For Chicago: Eugene Sawyer Jr.". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
- Johnson, Dirk (December 2, 1987). "Feuding Delays Selection of Chicago Mayor". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
- “Chicago Gains Acting Mayor.” Eugene Register-Guard, December 3, 1987.
- "Election Results for 1989 Primary Election, Mayor, Chicago, Illinois (Democratic Party)". Chicago Democracy Project. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
- "Former Mayor Eugene Sawyer Dies". Chicago Tribune. 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
- Yates, Jon; Malone, Tara (January 21, 2008). "Eugene Sawyer: 1934-2008". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
- "Archival Collections". Chicago Public Library.
- Mayor Eugene Sawyer at the Chicago Public Library, including link to text of acceptance speech
- Archival Collections maintained by Special Collections department of the Chicago Public Library located in the Harold Washington Library, including the Eugene Sawyer Collection
- Eugene Sawyer Mayoral Records Finding Aid for the Eugene Sawyer Collection funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources and produced by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium “Color Curtain Processing Project”
- Eugene Sawyer article archive at the Chicago Tribune
- Eugene Sawyer article archive at the Los Angeles Times
- Eugene Sawyer article collection at the New York Times
|Mayor of Chicago
December 2, 1987 – April 24, 1989
Richard M. Daley