Des Moines Filmmaker Behind New Documentary on Chicago Mayor
Growing up in Chicago, I could sense that the fruits of Mayor Harold Washington's labor were still revered decades after his term (1983 - 1987). The first Black Mayor of Chicago, Washington has a library, a cultural center, a park, and a community college named after him. His wide-eyed, infectious populism made him a hero to the Black community, and a widely popular figure as a whole.
Not many politicians come across as likable, genial individuals away from the podium. Mayor Washington did.
On that note, it's surprising it's taken so long for a documentary on Washington's impact and lasting legacy to come to fruition. Punch 9 for Harold Washington, a new documentary from Joe Winston, is set for release on October 7th, 2022 in select AMC Theaters across the country. It's a project years more than seven years in development that's finally seeing its premiere — and a Des Moines native is behind it.
Sonya Jackson is a producer on Punch 9 for Harold Washington (the film gets its title from Washington's campaign slogan, which implored voters to "punch" the ninth tab on the ballot to cast a vote for him in the election). Jackson is a former corporate executive, who made the pivot to the film industry as a desire to try something different.
Jackson also wanted to help highlight the fact that President Barack Obama followed in the footsteps of Washington. He was another Chicago kid, who grew up in the Windy City before finishing his educational career at Harvard. The parallels are highlighted in Punch 9 for Harold Washington.
The documentary examines Washington's rise and tenure as Chicago's first Black mayor, who came up in a hostile political and social landscape in the late 1970s/early 1980s:
An epic story of American politics, race, and triumph against all odds, that chronicles the captivating rise, surprising reign, and enduring legacy of Chicago’s first Black Mayor, Harold Washington. In one of the dirtiest political campaigns in American history, in a city rife with corruption and discrimination, Harold Washington took on the machine and won. - per the film's website