Walter Edward Washington, the first elected mayor of Washington D.C. since the Civil War, died on Oct. 27 from kidney failure and cardiopulmonary arrest. He was 88.
Born in Dawson, Ga., Washington moved to D.C. to earn a bachelor’s and law degree from Howard University. He became head of the New York City Housing Authority in 1966 and was named mayor-commissioner of the District of Columbia in 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Five months after his appointment, the city exploded in violence following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Washington was credited with diffusing racial tensions and peacefully dealing with rioting citizens.
When Congress approved home rule for the district in 1973, Washington ran for mayor. He won the following year and became the city’s first elected mayor in 104 years and the first black man to run a major U.S. city. The District had a $40 million surplus when he left office.
After leaving city government, Washington became a partner in the law office of Burns, Jackson, Miller, Summit & Jacoby. He also worked to establish the City Museum of Washington, D.C.