Mar 13, 2009
Bernie Epton went down in history as the Other Guy: the white opponent who almost defeated the first black mayor of Chicago. But what's the real story of someone who ended up on the wrong side of history? That and other stories of people with wildly popular or unpopular views for one moment in time, and how those views stand up years, decades, even centuries later.
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- When Bernie Epton ran for mayor of Chicago in 1983, he was a long shot—Chicago historically voted in democrat mayors, and Bernie himself didn't think he stood a chance. Beyond that, Bernie was a moderate republican, with some liberal tendencies: He was a opponent of McCarthyism, he marched in Memphis after Dr. King's assassination, and his kids went to majority black schools.
Until Harold Washington was chosen as the democratic candidate to beat, and the run for mayor of Chicago quickly became about race, and Bernie became a real contender for mayor. In the weeks leading up to the election, Bernie became the symbol of white hope for voters who sought to place race before party.
Reporter Alex Kotlowitz speaks to Bernie Epton's daughter Dale and son Jeff, to find out what happened during the election of 1983 and the years to follow, and the legacy that Bernie Epton even now can't escape. (25 minutes)