Steve Askin Papers

Dates 1969 – 1984 (Bulk dates 1977-1983)
Size 0.75 linear foot, 1 oversize folder
Repository Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number H00076
Provenance The collection was donated by Steve Askin in 2017. A campaign poster and second copies of 10 press releases were donated by John Cameron in 2017.
Access It is the responsibility of the researcher to satisfy all copyright and privacy laws when copying or using material found in this collection.
Citation When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Steve Askin Papers [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by Morag Walsh, 2017

Biographical Note

Steve Askin (born 1953) was Harold Washington’s Communications Director during his unsuccessful run for mayor in 1977. Askin at first served a communications assistant in the campaign. He took over the Communications Director role in mid-March 1977, after the resignation of Don Rose. After losing the election, Washington continued serving as Illinois State Senator until 1980 when he was elected to the U.S. Congress. Askin joined Congressman Washington’s staff in December 1980 serving as Press Secretary, based in Washington, D.C. Askin later volunteered in Washington’s north side campaign office during the successful 1983 Chicago mayoral election.

Askin has devoted his career to uncovering corporate and governmental abuses that harm the poor, working people and people of color in the U.S. and internationally. In a global journalism career, Askin’s writings include investigations of sanctions-busting under South African apartheid for Business Week, the global trade in landmines for Human Rights Watch, and union-busting for the Chicago Reporter and In These Times. From 1994 until his retirement at the end of 2017, he served as a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Research Coordinator leading investigations of companies that deny workers their right to a just wage and union representation.

Askin dropped out of the University of Chicago to work with Harold Washington in 1977 though he belatedly received his AB degree from that same university in 1991. He earned an MBA in Accounting at Columbia University in 1993.

Scope and Content

These files were created by Steve Askin in his role as Harold Washington’s Communications Director before the Chicago mayoral Democratic Primary election on April 19, 1977 and as his Press Secretary in 1981. In addition to information about Washington’s positions on key issues, there is significant documentation of the immediate aftermath of the 1977 loss, including a report, written by Askin, assessing the situation and how to move forward.

Of particular note are the files marked “Police Surveillance/Red Squad” which Harold Washington requested and obtained. The Red Squad was a unit within the Chicago Police Department that carried out both overt and covert tactics of surveillance, intimidation and infiltration on individuals and organizations it deemed revolutionary. After the 1968 Democratic National Convention the Red Squad expanded its targets from communists and anarchists to civil rights organizations, including Operation Breadbasket and Operation PUSH. Harold Washington attended both of these organizations’ meetings and he is identified in these reports. Lastly, there is a collection of press releases and speeches given by Congressman Washington, prepared by Steve Askin, and a 1977 campaign poster.

Arrangement/Series Description

Original order has mostly been preserved though some minor adjustments have been made by the archivist. Arrangement is largely chronological. Files containing information generated by Chicago’s Red Squad have been grouped together then arranged chronologically. Materials relating to the 1977 Democratic Primary election are also grouped together and arranged chronologically. The press releases and speeches that date from Washington’s time as U.S. Congressman have also been arranged chronologically, where possible.

Related Materials

Harold Washington, Illinois State Representative Records
Harold Washington, Illinois State Senate Records
Harold Washington, U.S. Congressional Records
Harold Washington, Pre-Mayoral Photograph Collection
Harold Washington, Mayoral Campaign Records
Harold Washington, Asian American Advisory Committee Records
Harold Washington, Central Files Records
Harold Washington, Chief of Staff Records
Harold Washington, City Council Proceedings Records
Harold Washington, Community Services Sub-Cabinet Records
Harold Washington, Development Sub-Cabinet Records
Harold Washington, Finance and Administration Sub-Cabinet Records
Harold Washington, Infrastructure Sub-Cabinet Records
Harold Washington, Legislative Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs Records
Harold Washington, Office Manager/Supervisor of Clerical Staff Records
Harold Washington, Press Office Records
Harold Washington, Public Safety/Regulatory Sub-Cabinet Records
Harold Washington, Real Estate Committee Records
Harold Washington, Schedules and Evaluations Records
Harold Washington, Videocassette Collection
Harold Washington, Commemorative Year Archives
Harold Washington, Political Education Project Records

Subject Headings

  • Askin, Steve, 1953- — Archives.
  • Chicago (Ill.). — Police Department. — Intelligence Section.
  • Elections--Illinois--Chicago.
  • Hampton, Fred, 1948-1969
  • Mayors--Illinois--Chicago—Election
  • Operation Breadbasket (U.S.)
  • Operation PUSH (U.S.)
  • Washington, Harold, 1922-1987

Container List

Box 1 Folder 1 News clippings, articles by Steve Askin related to the February 25, 1975 Chicago mayoral Democratic Primary election, 1974, 1975
Box 1 Folder 2 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Intelligence Name Cards, 1969-1974
Box 1 Folder 3 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Fred Hampton Probe, 1969 December 20
Box 1 Folder 4 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation Breadbasket, 1971 May 1 (2 reports)
Box 1 Folder 5 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation Breadbasket, SCLC, 1971 October 23
Box 1 Folder 6 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation Breadbasket, 1971 November 8
Box 1 Folder 7 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1972 October 7 (2 reports)
Box 1 Folder 8 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1972 October 14
Box 1 Folder 9 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1973 March 3 (2 reports)
Box 1 Folder 10 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1973 March 17 (2 reports)
Box 1 Folder 11 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1973 March 24 (3 reports)
Box 1 Folder 12 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1973 November 10
Box 1 Folder 13 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Concerned Citizens for Police Reform, 1974 February 15
Box 1 Folder 14 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1974 March 2 (2 reports)
Box 1 Folder 15 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, Operation PUSH, 1974 October 19
Box 1 Folder 16 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Press Release, Washington releases spy file; Promises to halt spying and fire Rochford, 1977 April 7
Box 1 Folder 17 Police Surveillance/Red Squad, Interview Reports, letter, Harold Washington to Editor, Chicago Tribune, regarding police spying, 1977 June 4
Box 1 Folder 18 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, News clippings, 1977 January – April
Box 1 Folder 19 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Endorsements, 1977
Box 1 Folder 20 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Releases by Don Rose, 1977 February, March
Box 1 Folder 21 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Don Rose’s letter of resignation, 1977 March 17
Box 1 Folder 22 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, List of campaign offices; Steve Askin’s “Washington for Mayor” contacts, 1977
Box 1 Folder 23 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Flyers sent by the “Senator Harold Washington for Mayor” campaign, 1977 March
  Oversize folder 6 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Campaign poster, Senator Washington for Mayor, Democratic, April 19
Box 1 Folder 24 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Chicago Sun-Times’ questionnaire, 1977 March
Box 1 Folder 25 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Chicago Daily News’ questionnaire, 1977 March
Box 1 Folder 26 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington condemns Child-Parent Center cuts, 1977 March 23
Box 1 Folder 27 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release and Statement, Full employment and affirmative action, 1977 March 24
Box 1 Folder 28 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Transcript of WBBM’s John Madigan’s broadcast against Alderman Roman Pucinski, 1977 March 28
Box 1 Folder 29 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Harold Washington’s statement on taxes and net worth, 1977 March 28
Box 1 Folder 30 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Correspondence related to Harold Washington’s tax returns, 1977 March
Box 1 Folder 31 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Harold Washington’s tax returns, 1970-1975 (2 copies)
Box 1 Folder 32 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington supports rent commission; Denounces City’s plan, 1977 March 30
Box 1 Folder 33 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Statement, A program for reducing crime and improving law enforcement programs in Chicago, 1977 March
Box 1 Folder 34 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, A bill of rights for City workers, 1977 April 1
Box 1 Folder 35 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release and Statement, Program for a working city, 1977 April 4
Box 1 Folder 36 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington joins in opposing destruction of higher education, affirmative action, 1977 April 6
Box 1 Folder 37 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19,Press Release, Washington protests police harassment of campaign workers, 1977 April 8
Box 1 Folder 38 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington calls for planning with communities, 1977 April 8
Box 1 Folder 39 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington announces program to transform public housing, 1977 April 9
Box 1 Folder 40 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, A program to transform the public housing system, 1977 April 9
Box 1 Folder 41 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release and Statement, A program to get Chicago’s people working, 1977 April 12
Box 1 Folder 42 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Delay of approval for Chicago’s overall economic development plan, 1977 April 12
Box 1 Folder 43 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Letter, Steve Askin to John H. Sengstacke, Editor and Publisher, Chicago Defender, 1977 April 13
Box 1 Folder 44 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington announces program to improve health care in Chicago, 1977 April 14
Box 1 Folder 45 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington defends rights to vote for state employees, 1977 April 14
Box 1 Folder 46 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington denounces Bilandic’s transit plans; Declares support for public transit, 1977 April 15
Box 1 Folder 47 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington releases program for improving Chicago’s housing conditions, 1977 April 16
Box 1 Folder 48 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Statement, A program for improving health care in the City of Chicago, 1977 April
Box 1 Folder 49 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Statement, A program for stopping arson, circa 1977 April
Box 1 Folder 50 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Statement, a program to house Chicago’s people, circa 1977 April
Box 1 Folder 51 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Press Release, Washington discusses election day prospects, 1977 April 18
Box 1 Folder 52 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Statement, Washington calls for legal action on staggering election day abuses, 1977 April 19
Box 1 Folder 53 Democratic Primary election, 1977 April 19, Report, After the 1977 election; a strategic assessment and some thoughts for the future, by Steve Askin, 1977 April 29
Box 1 Folder 54 Contract to undertake public relations work for Harold Washington, by Steve Askin, 1977 May 16
Box 1 Folder 55 1977 Mayoral Election, Press Release, Harold Washington finds “no one worth supporting,” 1977 May, June
Box 1 Folder 56 Harold Washington’s statement to Independent Voters of Illinois, 1977 May 21
Box 1 Folder 57 Harold Washington’s reply to article by Walter Morrison, Chicago Daily News, “Black Dems Hopes Rise for Power in the Party,” 1977 May
Box 1 Folder 58 Press Releases, statements and correspondence regarding Currency Exchange Reform, 1977-1978
Box 1 Folder 59 Press Releases, statements, correspondence and speeches by State Senator Harold Washington, 1977 June 18 – circa 1979
Box 1 Folder 60 Draft statement for NAACP’s conference, 1977, September 6
Box 1 Folder 61 Article, Socialists and Electoral Politics, NAM Discussion Bulletin, Red Gargoyle, by John Cameron and Steve Askin, Winter 1978
Box 1 Folder 62 Published articles about Harold Washington by Steve Askin, 1978-1984
Box 1 Folder 63 Booklet, The First Congressional District, Community Services Guide, circa 1980 (2 copies)
Box 1 Folder 64 Congressman Harold Washington Reports, Congressional Newsletters, 1981 May – 1982 January
Box 1 Folder 65 Article by Harold Washington protesting federal cuts, It’s time to strike back, 1981 October 1
Box 1 Folder 66 Photographs, Congressional Black Caucus March to Capitol Hill, photo by Steve Askin, 1981 September 25 (2 copies)
Box 1 Folder 67 Photograph, Harold Washington, Steve Askin and unidentified voter, photo by Chicago Sun-Times, 1983 February 2,
Box 2 Folder 1 Press release, Congressman Harold Washington resigns from the Illinois Legislature; Blasts “Machine Bosses”, 1981 January 20
Box 2 Folder 2 Press release, Congressman Washington boycotts Reagan meeting, blasts Reagan economic programs, 1981 February 3
Box 2 Folder 3 Press release, speech, We must stop Reagan’s energy program before Reagan makes us freeze, 1981 March 7
Box 2 Folder 4 Speech, Challenges of the ‘80s, education and the economy, 1981 March 14
Box 2 Folder 5 Speech, to K.A.M. Isaiah Temple, 1981 March 22
Box 2 Folder 6 Speech, White violence in America, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Quinn Chapel, 1981 April 4
Box 2 Folder 7 Congressional Record, House of Representatives, Reagan budget is a plan for economic disaster, by U.S. Rep. Harold Washington, 1981 May 6
Box 2 Folder 8 Speech, Olive-Harvey College, Commencement, 1981 May 14
Box 2 Folder 9 Speech, Community Renewal Society, 1981 May 28
Box 2 Folder 10 Speech, to Illinois Abortion Rights, Action League, 1981 June 7
Box 2 Folder 11 Speech, Civil rights, workers’ rights dangerous jobs, the time for coalition is now, 1981 June 13
Box 2 Folder 12 Speech, Reaganomics and the assault of democratic rights, an evening in defense of democratic rights, 1981 June 19
Box 2 Folder 13 Speech Bilalian News, 20th anniversary banquet, 1981 June 26
Box 2 Folder 14 Press release, Congressman Washington condemns Reagan administration plan to weaken affirmative action, 1981 August 26
Box 2 Folder 15 Speech, Response by Congressman Harold Washington to new proposed rules by Reagan administration for hiring by federal contractors, 1981 August 26
Box 2 Folder 16 Press release, Congressman Harold Washington sharply opposes Reagan policy towards South Africa, 1981 September 2
Box 2 Folder 17 Speech regarding the unemployment rate for black workers, 1981 September 4
Box 2 Folder 18 Speech, Labor Day Rally, Support Solidarity Day, Oppose Reagan administration union busting, 1981 September 7
Box 2 Folder 19 Speech to the Advisory Council on Equal Opportunity, Has affirmative action gone too far? 1981 October 20
Box 2 Folder 20 Press release, Congressman Harold Washington challenges President Reagan’s plan for CIA power to infiltrate and influence domestic organizations, 1981 October 28
Box 2 Folder 21 Speech regarding the federal budget, undated
Box 2 Folder 22 Speech to the Affirmative Action Officers Association regarding Reconstruction, undated
Box 2 Folder 23 Speeches, partial, undated
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