punch 9: harold washington for chicago

2018 Pitch Brunch Participant



“Barack Obama stood on the shoulders of Harold Washington.” – David Axelrod

Harold Washington made history as Chicago’s first Black mayor. But he was much more than that.

He fought a duel – to the death – with the nation’s last great political machine. As he brought the Civil Rights movement into City Hall, his opponents fought him at every turn. By the end, old Polish ladies pushed their husbands aside to dance with him at neighborhood festivals.

Today, racism in politics has taken an ugly turn, threatening to erase decades of progress. Now is the perfect time, and this is the perfect story, to inspire a new generation to create lasting change. This new documentary film will tell the story of Washington’s rise in politics, brawls with his opponents, and reckon with his national impact. We need your support to make it happen.


A native Chicagoan, Joe has been working in video production since 1990.

Joe was a Field Producer on Citizen Koch which was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Together with Laura Cohen, he produced and directed the 2009 documentary What's the Matter with Kansas? which Roger Ebert named "one of the Ten Best Documentaries of the Year."

As an Emmy-nominated video editor, he has cut many TV programs for PBS, Al Jazeera America, History, National Geographic, A&E, Discovery, Home and Gardens, Fox Business News, Weather Channel and DRTV.

He has also produced award-winning documentaries on the Burning Man Festival and the cult favorite cable access TV series This Week in Joe's Basement.