Washington, Walter Edward, 1915–2003, American political figure, first African-American mayor of Washington, D.C. (1975–79) and of a major American city, b. Dawson, Ga., grad. Howard Univ. (A.B., 1938; LL.B., 1948). While attending night law school, Washington, a Democrat, began a career in local government, working for the agency that became the National Capital Housing Authority and eventually rising (1961) to the post of executive director. Appointed chairman of the New York City Housing Authority in 1966, he returned to Washington head of city government (1967) and won praise for his calm handling of the riots that occurred (1968) after Martin Luther King's assassination. Twice reappointed, he became (1975) the capital's first elected mayor in 103 years when home rule was reestablished. After losing (1978) his bid for reelection to Marion Barry, Washington practiced law and remained active in capital politics.
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