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The Honorable Eugene Sawyer

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Information about The Honorable Eugene Sawyer

Profile image of The Honorable Eugene Sawyer

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
City Alderman
Mayor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Macaroni, Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Birthplace

Born:
9/3/1934
Birth Location:
Greensboro, Alabama

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
City Alderman
Mayor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Macaroni, Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Birthplace

Born:
9/3/1934
Birth Location:
Greensboro
See how The Honorable Eugene Sawyer is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Civil servant and former Chicago Mayor Eugene Sawyer was born in Greensboro, Alabama, on September 3, 1934, to Bernice and Eugene Sawyer, Sr. The oldest of six children, Sawyer graduated from Alabama State University in Montgomery in 1956 with his B.S. degree in secondary education. While still in school, Sawyer traveled to Chicago every summer to live with his aunt on the South Side and work odd jobs.

After graduating from college, Sawyer taught high school math and chemistry for one year in Prentiss, Mississippi; in 1957, he moved to Chicago permanently to pursue a career in laboratory science. Sawyer spent two years working for Rockford Sprinklers before he was hired at a South Side water filtration plant in 1959 to work as a lab technician. At the same time, Sawyer joined the Democratic Ward Organization of the 6th Ward, where he worked his way up through both the organization and the city water department. Over time, Sawyer served as president of the 6th Ward Young Democrats; financial secretary for the entire ward organization; and president.

Sawyer served as alderman of the 6th Ward from 1971 until 1988; in 1987, following the unexpected death of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, he was elected by the City Council to serve as acting mayor of the City of Chicago. Sawyer was sworn in at 4:01 a.m. on December 2, 1987, after a contentious fight that divided Chicago’s African American community. During his tenure as mayor, Sawyer expanded Chicago’s governmental outreach to develop cooperative partnerships with business and industry.

Following his term as mayor, Sawyer and his friend, businessman Charles Harrison, III, partnered to form CEI International, a reseller of natural gas and other fuels; he served as vice president of the company until 1997.

Sawyer was an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity since 1953 and a trustee at Vernon Park Church and vice chairman of the board of the Wyatt Center.

Sawyer married his wife, Veronica, on September 7, 1996.

Eugene Sawyer passed away on January 19, 2008, at the age of seventy-three.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eugene Sawyer interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer describes his family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer discusses his father's occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer remembers his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer evaluates the role of children
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his childhood in Greensboro, Alabama
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his father's business
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eugene Sawyer reflects on race relations in the Greensboro, Alabama of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eugene Sawyer remembers influential figures from his high school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his experience on the high school football team
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his college prospects
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his civil rights participation while in college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer describes his first job, post-college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer describes his initial employment in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer details his beginnings in Chicago politics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer discusses his campaign for alderman of Chicago's 6th ward
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer describes Chicago's 6th ward
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer reviews changes in Chicago politics during the late 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer reflects on Mayor Richard J. Daley's interactions with Chicago's black community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer remembers Chicago politics after the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer recalls Jane Byrne's mayoral tenure
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer remembers Harold Washington's mayoral tenure
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer describes his role in the Harold Washington administration
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer recalls federal investigations of Chicago aldermen, 1980s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer recalls dissent in the Harold Washington administration
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer recalls Harold Washington's second term in office
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer remembers the death of Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer discusses political activity following the death of Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his election as acting mayor of Chicago
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer recalls reactions to his election as acting mayor of Chicago
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his tenure as acting mayor of Chicago
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer recounts the Steve Cokely conspiracy theory incident
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer discusses opponents to his 1989 mayoral campaign
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer evaluates his personality
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer recounts Chicago's 1989 mayoral election
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eugene Sawyer describes improvements made during his mayoral tenure
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer responds to criticisms of his leadership persona
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer describes the closure of his energy endeavor
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer calls for unity in the black community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer reflects on his mayoral tenure
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer details hometown responses to his success
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer discusses his children and his nephew
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Eugene Sawyer considers his legacy