Lori Lightfoot

Chicago Mayoral Election Victory Speech - April 2, 2019

Lori Lightfoot
April 02, 2019
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Thank you Chicago.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. A few moments ago I spoke with Toni Preckwinkle. Ii this election, Toni and I were competitors, but our differences are nothing compared to what we can achieve together. Now that it’s over, I know we will work together for the city that we both love.

Today, you did more than make history. You created a movement for change. You know when we started this journey 11 months ago, nobody gave us much of a chance. We were up against powerful interests, a powerful machine, and a powerful mayor. But I remembered something Martin Luther King said when I was very young. “Faith,” he said, “is taking the first step when you can’t see the staircase.” Well we couldn’t see the whole staircase when we started this journey, but we had faith. And abiding faith in this city, its people, and in its future. So we took that first step. And as Father Mike says, we let our faith overcome our fears.

And look at where we are today. Just look at us.

We still have faith. We are still determined, and with this mandate for change now we’re going to take the next steps together. Together, we can and will finally the interests of our people – all of our people – ahead of the interests of a powerful few. Together we can and will make Chicago a place where your zip code doesn’t your destiny.

And that means we can and we will make our streets – all of our streets – safe again.

We can and we will give every single one of our children – all of our children – access to the high quality education they deserve.

We can and we will our neighborhoods – all of our neighborhoods – the same time and attention that we give the downtown. And we won’t just invest in our neighborhoods – we can and we will make sure our neighborhoods and all of our neighborhoods and all of our neighbors are invested in each other. This is not us versus them, our neighborhoods versus downtown – we are in this together and we will grow together.

We can and we will build trust between our people and our brave police officers so that the communities and police trust each other, not fear each other

We can and we will break this city’s endless cycle of corruption. And never again, never ever allow politicians to profit from elected positions.

Together we can and we will remake Chicago – thriving, prosperous, better, stronger, fairer – for everyone.

Over the last 11 months every single day I’ve been reminded, sometimes painfully, that our campaign, our work, matters. I’ve seen the tears of mothers who have lost their children to this city’s plague of senseless gun violence. Maria Pike’s son Ricky, a double honors student at Le Cordon Bleu, was gunned down at the age of 24. Michelle Dowdy’s son, Malcom, a veteran of the U.S. coast guard, was killed by a stray bullet blindly fired into a crowd at age 33. And Milagros Burgos’ daughter, Alexandra, was sitting in a friend’s house when a bullet came through the window and killed her. And she was just 18 years old. These mothers cried, and then with courage and determination turned their tears into a demand for change – setting up organizations like ‘Moms Demand Action.’

Our duty as a city, as leaders, as neighbors, as people – is to stand with these mothers and children and put an end to this gun violence once and for all. We must say enough is enough.

I’ve met small business owners who want to start or grow their businesses – but they say it takes two years just to get a permit or a license or a sign. These business owners are a part of the economic engine of our city. They serve their neighborhoods and create jobs. They just want a city government that’s a help and not a hindrance. It’s not too much ask! And so we’re going to help our small business and not stand in their way.

And I’ve also met families from our immigrant communities – people from Mexico, people from Central and South America, people from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa – people from all over the world. And these people are scared. They’re scared of the climate of hate and fear, fanned and promoted by a culture in Washington D.C. and from the White House in the capitol of our own country. They’re our neighbors, and they’re scared of a knock on the door in the middle of the night followed by agents coming in to haul them away. For 150 years Chicago has welcomed generations of immigrants from all over the world and all over America. They built this city and made it what it is today! Now it is our solemn duty as a city, as people, as neighbors, to stand up for our immigrant families to protect them and stand against hate. And we will make sure Chicago is a place that will welcome immigrants for the next 150 years.

Recently, a student heading off to college asked me an important question. “When I graduate,” he asked, “why should I come back here to Chicago? What will you do, in four years, to convince me to come back?” Questions like this are on the minds of a lot of people. Should I move here? Should I stay? Our duty is to make sure the answer is a resounding yes. Everything, literally everything, depends on it. A shrinking city, which is where we are right now, just will not do. To thrive, Chicago must grow. It simply must.

And if we make our streets safer, our schools better, our neighborhoods stronger, our businesses – large and small – more prosperous, then people will want to stay and they will want to move here. If we work together to solve our toughest challenges, Chicago will grow again. And we cannot afford to fail.

Out there tonight, a lot of little girls and boys are watching. They’re watching us. And they’re seeing the beginning of something, well, a little bit different.

They’re seeing a city reborn. A city where it doesn’t matter what color you are; and where it certainly doesn’t matter how tall you are. Where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love.

Let me say that again: where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love with all your heart. In the Chicago we will build together, we will celebrate our differences. We will embrace our uniqueness. And we will make certain that all have every opportunity to succeed.

Every child out there should know this: each of you, one day, can be the mayor of Chicago. Want to know why? Just look right here. One day you will stand on my shoulders, as I stand on the shoulders of so many. The shoulders of strong black women, like Ida B. Wells, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Annie Ruth Flowery; the shoulders of LGBTQ+ trailblazers, like Dr. Ron Sable, Vernita Gray, and Art Johnston; and the shoulders of political giants like the late, great, Harold Washington.

And kids, you will stand on the shoulders of your families, just as I have. Now my parents didn’t have it easy. My dad got really sick and slipped into a coma for a year, a whole year, and woke up without the ability to hear anything. He lived the rest of his life with his disability; and worked as a barber and a janitor; and put up with the racism in our small, segregated, steel town. My mom worked low wage jobs in mental hospitals and nursing homes. My parents didn’t have much money, but they had their dignity and their dreams. Dreams for their children, dreams for me.

They taught me the value of honest, decency, hard work, and education. And they gave me faith – the faith that put me where I am today. My mom is watching this tonight – with more than a little pride in her little girl. My dad isn’t with us anymore, but dad – wherever you are – look at your daughter, and look at everyone here, and look at our great city. Thank you dad, your sacrifices have been born anew. We made it. And I sure wouldn’t have made it without my wife, Amy, and our daughter Vivian.

I want to thank you both for your endless inspiration, your support at the toughest times, and your undying love. You are my all, my everything.

Now there are too many people to thank individually, but I’ve got to mention a few. First, I have to thank our great campaign staff. Those who have been with us from the very beginning, and those who have joined us along the way – your efforts have been tireless, determined, and your enthusiasm contagious. I’m honored by your sacrifices and your service, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. And I must also thank our incredible volunteers. If you gave an hour, or a thousand, it all mattered and helped propel us to this moment. I must also thank our friends in organized labor, the backbone of this great city. You truly make Chicago work like none other, and I thank you. And I particularly want to thank all those teachers out there who’ve supported me. Thank you. And of course I want thank our family and close circle of friends here and elsewhere. You sustain me and Amy and Vivian, today, and every day.

Now, my friends, what I want you to do is grab the hand of the person next to you.

You may be strangers, but in this room, in this city, we are all neighbors.

I want you to feel that power, neighbor to neighbor, that comes when we unit and join together as one Chicago, indivisible and united for all!

When I was a little girl, I remember singing the song “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine.” We’ve said “It’s time to let in the light,” and it’s sure shining on all of us tonight. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Thank you very much, god bless you all, and god bless Chicago.

Lightfoot, L. [Chicago Sun-Times]. (2019, April 2) FULL SPEECH: Lori Lightfoot makes history as Chicago's first African American female mayor-elect [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE9jAd2cLb8]. Retrieved on February 2, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvU3ALK4osa_RV4znIToB2Q.