In this March 30, 1990 file photo, Rep. Gus Savage, D-Ill., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Savage, a civil rights activist and journalist who represented a South Side Chicago district for 12 years in the U.S. House, died on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, a day after celebrating his 90th birthday. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)
CHICAGO (AP) — Gus Savage, a civil rights activist and journalist who represented a South Side Chicago district for 12 years in the U.S. House, died on Saturday, a day after celebrating his 90th birthday.
His son Thomas Savage told The Associated Press the former Democratic congressman celebrated his birthday on Friday with family and friends. He went to sleep and was found unresponsive in his bed on Saturday morning.
Born in Detroit, Savage moved to Chicago with his family when he was age five. Savage served in a segregated unit of the U.S. Army during World War II.
He founded Citizen Newspapers, which became the largest Black-owned chain of weekly community newspapers in the Midwest.
He sold the newspaper chain in 1980 and was elected that year to represent Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District until January 1993.
A major achievement during his time in Congress was passage of a measure requiring the U.S. Defense Department to set aside lucrative military procurement contracts for minority-owned businesses, according to the U.S. House website.
“He never wavered in the fight for fairness and justice, no matter the foe or the arena,” his son said.
Savage’s record was marred by an ethics investigation in 1989, during which he was accused of sexual misconduct involving a Peace Corps volunteer while he was on an official visit to Zaire, the House website said. The subsequent public report condemned his behavior but did not recommend punishment, citing Savage’s effort to apologize to the volunteer.
Savage lost the Democratic primary in 1992 to Mel Reynolds and stepped down from Congress the next year.
He is survived by his son, a daughter and three grandchildren.