Oct 7, 2022 - News

New "Punch 9" film is a revelation

Photo of a man waving to a crowd.

Photo by Marc PoKempner, courtesy of Tallgrass Productions

👋 Hey, it's Monica. Watching the fabulous new "Punch 9: For Harold Washington" documentary took me right back to February 1983.

Flashback: I was in eighth grade, and my boyfriend shocked me by saying his family would leave Chicago if Harold Washington was elected mayor.

  • At the time, I assumed his family was part of a tiny, racist faction in the city.
  • But Punch 9 reminded me that this was no small faction. In fact, nearly half the voters in this Democratic town opted for a little-known white Republican (Bernard Epton) over electing the city's first Black mayor.
  • In the end, Washington won with a mere 52% to Epton's 48%.

Why it matters: Even if you think you remember Washington's historic victory, you'll probably learn something new in this illuminating film.

  • It opens in AMC theaters throughout the country today.
  • Highlights include the fascinating recap of events that set the scene for a Washington run and insightful commentary by Laura Washington, David Axelrod and former alder Dick Mell.
  • Plus old footage of Chicago and veteran news anchors who looked so young back then.

💭 Monica's thought bubble: Contemporary Chicago may have a lot of problems, but the fact that it's no longer normal for jerks to shout racial epithets as a Black mayor walks down the street tells me we've made at least some progress.

  • And I still wonder about the kind of progress Washington and the city could have made if he'd just lived through his second term.

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