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Savage, Augustus Alexander, “Gus” (1925 - )

Image Courtesy of the U.S. House of
Representatives Photography Office
Augustus Alexander Savage, later better known as “Gus”, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 30 1925. Savage attended public schools in Chicago and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1943 before joining the United States Army. He served until 1946 before earning a B.A. degree in philosophy from Roosevelt University in 1951 and attending Chicago-Kent college of Law from 1952 to 1953. In the 1940s, Savage was a fulltime organizer for the Progressive Party of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace and also a promoter of programs for Paul Robeson, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Hon. Elijah Muhammad.  Savage began a career as a journalist in 1954 and became the editor of The America Negro Magazine, the assistant editor of the Illinois Beverage Booster, and finally in 1965 he began to edit and publish the Chicago Weekend and Citizen Newspapers.

During his long career as a journalist, Savage was also politically active in the local community. He served as a member and officer in the Chicago League of Negro Voters (1958-59), the Southend Voters Conference (1965-67), and the Organization of the Southwest Communities (1968-69). Savage first ran for Congress in 1968, where he lost to incumbent Representative William T. Murphy in the primary and lost again in 1970. In December of 1979, Second District Representative Morgan F. Murphy announced his retirement and Savage entered the race to succeed him. Savage became a member of Ninety-seventh Congress on January 3, 1981 as Democrat of Illinois.

In Congress, Savage was elected chairman of the powerful Economic Development sub-committee of the House. The committee authorized and oversaw programs and funding for the Economic Development Administration and Appalachian Regional Commission. As chairman of the Economic Development subcommittee, Savage established an unprecedented federal commitment to minority set-asides when the House passed a $38 billion Department of Defense procurement goal for minority businesses and historically black colleges and universities in 1988. He also introduced amendments to the Public Works and Economic Development Act which required affirmative action for minority businesses.

In 1992, Savage lost a bid for a sixth successive term to former Representative Mel Reynolds.

Sources:
Bruce A. Ragsdale, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989 (Washington: U.S. Government) Printing Office, 1990; www.bioguide.congress.gov ; Alton Hornsby, Jr. and Angela M. Hornsby, “From the Grassroots”: Profiles of Contemporary African American Leaders (Montgomery, Alabama: E-BookTime LLC, 2006)

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University of Washington, Seattle

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