The Lightfoot Era Begins

Lori Lightfoot takes the oath as the new mayor of Chicago on Monday, May 20, 2019 in the presence of her wife Amy Eshleman and their daughter Vivian. Perrin on are former Mayor Richard Daley (back, in glasses) and new Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyers-Ervin (front right). Photo by Cindy Barrymore

Lori Lightfoot was pretty in pale blue with pearls as she took the oath as Chicago’s 56th mayor. She brought the change that she campaigned for as she won all of the city’s wards.

There is a new mayor in town; a lady assumes the seat on the fifth floor of City Hall. She is Black, she is gay, and she is a woman. Trifecta. None of those categories makes Lori Lightfoot a “minority” – instead she is a triple threat as she makes her very own history.

Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, takes the stage at the Wintrust Arena.
Photo by Cindy Barrymore

Her inaugural ceremony at Wintrust Arena was filled with thousands watching the inclusive ceremony. Native Americans participated and sang a tribal anthem. The Puerto Rican Arts Alliance performed. The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus greeted guests in the entrance.

Capers Funnye, a Black rabbi, gave blessings. A woman, Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, prayed for peace. Rev. Dr. L. Bernard Jakes, a Baptist preacher, gave the invocation. Imam Tariq I. El-Amin prayed for guidance.

(From top): The Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Chicago Gay Mens Chorus, Pipes and Drums of the Chicago Police Department, and Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon all performed. Photo by Cindy Barrymore

The Chicago Sinfonietta played and so did the After School Matters Choir. Miguel Cervantes from Hamilton performed the national anthem. The program demonstrated inclusion in all aspects.

The formal City Council meeting was brought to order by outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Former Mayor Daley was on the stage and sat behind the new mayor, and Governor and Mrs. JB Pritzker were on the stage, too.

Aldermen who won their elections this year were sworn in. Illinois political luminaries watching included Jesse White, Tammy Duckworth, Kwame Raoul, Dick Durban, Rahm Emanuel, Julianna Stratton, Bobby Rush, Robin Kelly, Chuy Garcia and Richard Daley (on this side of the aisle). Photo by Cindy Barrymore

Mayor Lightfoot was sworn in and gave a 45-minute speech that was a manifesto of what’s to come for Chicago and its citizens. Reform is here, ready or not.

She spoke humbly about hope. She noted that women of color now hold the power spots in citywide elective offices. She preached to the city to come together as one and to care for one another.

Lightfoot spoke of hope and possibility and acknowledged that the spirit of Harold Washington was with us on this inaugural morning and so was her father. Lori choked up when she spoke of her parents and the audience was with her. We teared, too.

Her mother told her that she could be anything she wanted. That’s a mouth full and an agenda for Black parents to teach their children as they cross over into an integrated society, where in many instances they will become the first and sometimes the only and sometimes rejected.

Lori’s mother Ann Lightfoot.

The mayor’s lovely 90-year-old mother was in attendance in a beautiful pink suit with a front row seat, as were her cousins and hometown people. They came to see the home girl they sent off to attend college at the University of Chicago become the mayor of America’s third-largest city.

She was humble, hopeful, forceful and set a different tone of leadership for the city. “We must be together. We are Chicago. We are each other’s business,” Lori said.

She addressed the four stars in the City of Chicago flag and gave each of the stars a new meaning in her rebuild.

She said first, there must be safety in every neighborhood and we must do away with the epidemic of violence. We have to stop living in war zones. She said there was no higher priority than to establish peace and safety and has created the new position of Deputy Mayor of Pubic Safety for Violence Prevention in an effort to bring peace to the entire city.

The second star symbolizes education, quality education for every single child, no matter the zip code. She intends to expand childhood education and provide apprenticeships for vocational students.

Thirdly, she spoke of financial stability. The city must get its fiscal house in order. We must structure the debt and get a handle on building affordable housing.

Mayor Lightfoot spoke to providing economic fairness to neighborhood businesses and recognized that Chicago is the economic engine of the Midwest, and therefore must lead.

She also challenged the city with a new social contract, a great commandment, no matter one’s religion, to “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” She left us with the John F. Kennedy-like thought: “What can I do?”

After the inauguration ceremonies, Mayor Lightfoot went to her new office at City Hall and received the people. The City Council meeting was recessed.

Change is in the air. Already I see a new attitude with Chicago police. They are polite and more courteous. So Lori Lightfoot has made changes already. She has opened the door that closed City Hall and the County in what appears to be a so that transparency can reign.

What I heard in her speech for real was a national Democratic platform. She was brilliant. There’s a new mayor in town. I give her three terms and look forward to a new era under The Honorable Lori Lightfoot.

More from Hermene Hartman

The Sultry Nancy Wilson

On October 13, 2018, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra paid musical tribute to...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *