Anna Langford

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Anna Langford (1917 – September 17, 2008) was an American politician and lawyer who served on the Chicago City Council in Chicago, Illinois. Langford became the first African American woman elected to the Chicago City Council in 1971.[1] She ultimately served three nonconsecutive terms on the council.[1]

Anna Langford was born in Springfield, Ohio to an African-American father and a white mother.[1] Both of her parents died when she was young. The racial discrimination leading to her mother's death impacted Langford's life and her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement. Her mother, who was white, was taken to an Ohioan hospital while suffering from appendicitis.[1] However, when her children, including Anna, who were biracial, came to visit their sick mother, the hospital immediately ordered her transferred to another hospital for African Americans.[1] Langford's mother suffered a burst appendix while en route to the second hospital and did not survive.[1]

Langford moved to Chicago after the death of her parents.[1] She graduated from Hyde Park High School and Roosevelt University.[1] She enrolled at John Marshall Law School and became a lawyer in 1956.[1]

She became intimately involved in the Civil Rights Movement, both within the Chicago Metropolitan Area and nationwide.[1] Langford met with Martin Luther King Jr. in the living room of her home in 1966 to plan a march on Cicero, Illinois to promote racial integration within the suburb.[1]

Langford ran for a seat on the Chicago City Council in 1971 after losing in her first attempt four years earlier.[2] On February 23, 1971, she won and became one of the first two female Chicago aldermen.[1] She was elected to represent the 16th Ward, which encompassed portions of the Back of the Yards, Gage Park and Englewood.[1]

Langford lost her re-election bid in 1975.[1] In 1979, her first attempt to regain her old seat failed, but her second attempt, in 1983, succeeded.[1][2] She was re-elected in 1987 and retired from her seat four years later.[2] In the Chicago City Council reorganization of 1988, Anna Langford became Mayor Pro-Tempore of the Council, a post she held from 1988-1991.

In the early 1980s, Langford challenged United States Congressman Harold Washington to run for Mayor of Chicago.[1] She reportedly told Washington that she would run for mayor if he didn't, even going as far as having "Langford for Mayor" cards printed to pressure Washington into entering the race.[1] Her persuasion worked; Washington ran for mayor and won in 1983.[1] After Washington's fatal heart attack in 1987, Langford mediated between mayoral hopefuls Aldermen Eugene Sawyer and Timothy C. Evans.[1] Langford ultimately backed Sawyer, who was elected mayor by the Chicago City Council.

Langford supported Barack Obama's candidacy for President of the United States during her later life.[1]

Anna Langford died of lung cancer on September 17, 2008 at her home in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago at the age of 90.[1] Langford was survived by her son, Larry Langford, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Donovan, Lisa (2008-09-18). "1st black female alderman dies". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  2. ^ a b c Jensen, Trevor (2008-09-19). "Civil rights lawyer helped break council gender barrier". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 

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