Civil rights

Service package for historian and civil rights leader Dr. Timuel Black


A public memorial service for historian and civil rights leader Dr. Timuel Black will be held Dec. 5 at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the University of Chicago campus, according to Black’s wife Zenobia Johnson-Black. .

Large crowds were to pay homage to Black during his scheduled visit and visit for Thursday, October 21 at AA Rayner and Sons Funeral Home, 318 E. 71st St., Chicago. A private funeral service was scheduled for Friday October 23.

On, 1,400 donors gave a total of $ 117,288 to Black’s wife. Black died at his Kenwood home on October 13, two weeks after close friends announced he was in hospice care at home.

He died less than two months before his 103rd birthday. In a New York Times article, Zenobia Johnson-Black said the cause of death was prostate cancer.

Politicians and community leaders remember Black as a courageous pioneer and scholar of Black Chicago history. Black was also credited with electing Harold Washington as the city’s first black mayor.

The Illinois Black Legislative Caucus, through the Illinois House of Representatives, released a House resolution last week to recognize Black for his local and national work in the civil rights movement.

Black was born in Birmingham, Alabama on December 7, 1918. His family were part of the first major African-American migration from the Deep South, settling in Chicago in 1919. A nationally respected educator, a political activist, community leader, oral historian, philanthropist and philosopher, Black has lived on the South Side since the family moved to Chicago over 100 years ago.

He attended Edmund Burke Elementary School and DuSable High School. Black worked as a newspaper delivery boy for the Chicago Defender. During the Great Depression, Black worked as a delivery boy for a local grocery store where he learned about community organizing. He would later organize the “Don’t Spend Your Money Where You Can’t Work” campaign in the 1930s.

This campaign led to the creation of the Negro Retail Clerks Union. In the 1940s, Black was an active organizer of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), which worked on the desegregation of Chicago’s department stores.

During World War II, Black served in the United States Army and was awarded four Battle Stars and a Croix de Guerre, the highest military honor bestowed on non-citizens by the French government. After the war, Black earned a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University and later a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

In 1955, after seeing Dr. Martin Luther King on television, Black abandoned his doctoral studies at the University of Chicago to become an active participant in the civil rights movement. He served as Chicago president of the historic 1963 March on Washington.

Black was one of the first African Americans in Chicago to challenge the Regular Democratic Organization and coined the term “plantation policy”. He has run for public office on several occasions and was a leader in the massive voter registration campaign that led to the election of Harold Washington as Chicago’s first black mayor. Black has published “Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s First Wave of Great Migration,” which chronicles the history of Black Chicago from the 1920s to the present day.

After decades of teaching in high schools, primarily in Chicago, in 1975, Black became a professor of sociology, anthropology, and black history at Loop College, which was later renamed Harold Washington College.

Washington, a friend of Black’s since his youth, represented their neighborhood in the House of Representatives in 1982.

Black and others have suggested he run for mayor. In his memoir, “Sacred Ground,” Black recalled that Washington laughed in response.

Black recalled that Washington had accepted his challenge on condition that Black register 50,000 new black voters and raise $ 100,000.

Black started a fundraising campaign and helped run a voter registration campaign and told Washington that he and several organizers had found 263,000 new voters and over $ 1 million in donations.

Washington in 1983 was elected the first black mayor of Chicago. He was re-elected in 1987. Less than a year after the start of his second term, Washington died of a heart attack on November 25, 1987.

In 2000, Black was the principal plaintiff in Black v. McGuffage, a lawsuit that accused the Illinois electoral system of systemic discrimination against minorities.

For his work, Black was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union as Civil Libertarian of the Year.

In 2008, Black received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Roosevelt University. In 2010, and again in 2015, Black traveled to the Netherlands and The Hague to be honored and speak at the U.S. Embassy’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day dinner.

In January 2012, the Timuel D. Black Records Archive was officially opened and opened to researchers in the Vivian Harsh Collection at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library in Chicago.

That same year, Black received the 54-year-old Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service from the University of Chicago.

He was the first black person to receive this award.

In 2013, the city of Chicago honored Black with the first Chicago Champion of Freedom Medal for his local and national efforts in the civil rights movement.

It was during the celebration of his centenary in 2018 that he was knighted by the French government and received the Medal of the French Legion of Honor, the highest distinction awarded to civilians.