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The Honorable Gus Savage

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Information about The Honorable Gus Savage

Profile image of The Honorable Gus Savage

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
10/30/1925
Birth Location:
Detroit, Michigan

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
10/30/1925
Birth Location:
Detroit
See how The Honorable Gus Savage is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Born October 30, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan, Gus Savage and his family moved to the South Side of Chicago five years later. Savage recalls a childhood spent in abject poverty and cramped quarters in a Chicago neighborhood that was a chief battleground in the city's racial turf wars. In this environment he was lured by gangs, violence, and gambling. After high school he entered the U.S. Army and was sent to the South for training, and it was in the South that Savage experienced first hand virulent anti-black racism. His experiences there led him away from his past gang activity and towards a renewed Christian faith, activity in the Civil Rights Movement and a burgeoning intellectual curiosity.

Savage was honorably discharged from the service and returned to Chicago, where, in 1950, he enrolled in Roosevelt University. Three years later, he graduated with a B.A. in philosophy. After graduating, he went on to Chicago-Kent College of Law, and began to involve himself politically. He worked on Henry Wallace's 1948 Progressive Party campaign for the Presidency and picketed city hall for housing opportunities for blacks.

From 1965 to 1980, Gus Savage was one of Chicago's most influential black journalists, as the owner of the Citizen newspapers, a chain of community weeklies in the Chicago area. During this time, he became a forceful voice for equality and black liberation, leading campaigns against the Chicago political machine for equal housing access and civil rights. In 1977, he managed Harold Washington's first unsuccessful bid for mayor and many credit him for paving the way for Washington's successful bid, six years later.

Having routinely run unsuccessfully in local and congressional elections, Savage's 1980 campaign for Congress was generally viewed as a long shot. Savage stunned the political establishment in both the Democratic primary and the general election and was elected to the U.S. House Representatives from Illinois' Second District. During his decade in Congress, Savage continued to be a strong voice for equality and minority advancement, serving as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development and Chairman of the Minority Business Braintrust of the Congressional Black Caucus. He also served on the House Committee on Small Business and on Public Works and Transportation, and was able to bring a $153 million to Chicago.

Savage passed away on October 31, 2015.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gus Savage interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gus Savage's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gus Savage describes his family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gus Savage describes growing up in the ghetto
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gus Savage recounts being drafted during World War II
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gus Savage summarizes his experience in military service
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gus Savage reflects on his undergraduate years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gus Savage sums up his time at Wilson Junior College
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gus Savage explains his involvement in the Henry Wallace campaign
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gus Savage recaps his early journalism career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gus Savage remembers leading protests against discrimination in the Loop
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gus Savage discusses demonstrating for housing for black veterans
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gus Savage recalls demonstrating against housing discrimination in Chicago
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gus Savage discusses Dempsey Travis
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gus Savage explains his anti-establishment philosophy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gus Savage details breaking "the Democratic machine's" hold on Chicago politics
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gus Savage recalls attending the first SNCC conference
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gus Savage relates his involvement with Protest at the Polls
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gus Savage recounts being intimidated and threatened for his political activity
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gus Savage remembers his brief tenure with Muhammad Speaks
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gus Savage sums up his work with the Citizen and other black newspapers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gus Savage illustrates his struggles to elect black candidates not beholden to the Chicago Machine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gus Savage recalls his editorial support of Charlie Chew's campaign
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gus Savage describes founding the Chatham Citizen and discusses black self-determination
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gus Savage denounces white-controlled black politicians and lists his successes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gus Savage lists those who were involved in Independent politics in 1960s and 1970s Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gus Savage details Harold Washington's campaigns and term as mayor
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gus Savage discusses black politicians who went against the Chicago Democratic political machine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gus Savage details Metcalfe's troubles with the Democratic political machine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gus Savage recounts the events preceding Harold Washington's election in 1980
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gus Savage recalls Harold Washington's election
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gus Savage remembers his U.S. Congressional election in 1980
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gus Savage discusses his congressional career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gus Savage details his work on the congressional Public Works Committee
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gus Savage recalls his efforts to preserve an slave burial ground in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gus Savage recalls the dedication of the Ralph Metcalfe courthouse
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gus Savage denounces the white press
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gus Savage relates his success in passing affirmative action legislation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gus Savage reflects on proud moments in his career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gus Savage details his opposition to military funding for Israel
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gus Savage explains why electoral politics isn't enough for black liberation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gus Savage discusses why integration negatively impacts black people
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gus Savage reflects on what the Civil Rights Movement accomplished
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gus Savage reiterates his opinion of integration
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gus Savage expresses his views on reparations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gus Savage ponders the future of the black community and his legacy