Anna Langford was the first African-American woman to serve in the Chicago City Council, representing the 16th Ward. Alderman Langford was not only the first African-American she was the first of two women elected in 1971.

I first met Anna in the early 1970’s when she was representing jazz saxophone musician Gene Ammons. She was his attorney, and after playing at a former North Side night club, the owners refused to pay Ammons. Anna confronted the owners and did not back down when it was rumored they might have mob ties. Anna succeeded in getting Ammons’ money. Many people knew Anna’s civil rights activism came about because of how her white mother was treated at an Ohio hospital. Her mother had an appendicitis and when Anna and her siblings came to the hospital, her mother was transferred to a hospital that serviced only blacks. As a result, her mother’s appendix burst as she died en route.

Anna Langford was always known to be a tough fighter for civil rights, her community, and against racism and sexism. This paved the way for women and African Americans at City Hall. A strong supporter of Mayor Harold Washington, the city’s first African American mayor, she also was one of the first individuals to contribute $1000 to Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) in the early 1970s during it’s transition from Operation Breadbasket.

Mrs. Langford was known for never forgetting friends. A good friend to the Austin Weekly News, she called this reporter earlier this year when she discovered she had incurable cancer. “I just wanted you and the staff of the newspaper to know how much I enjoyed reading Austin Weekly. I am 90 years old and I have had a great life and have no regrets.”

Anna Langford died of lung cancer Sept. 17 at age 90.

-Delores McCain