Timuel Black, elder statesman and griot of Chicago’s black community, turned 100 on Dec. 7. The momentous birthday was accompanied by a weekend of Chicago celebrations for the historian, author, political and civil rights activist.
A World War II veteran, Black taught for many years in the Chicago Public Schools, followed by 30 years at City Colleges of Chicago, before retiring in 1989. Raised in Chicago’s segregated “Black Belt,” he graduated in 1935 from DuSable High School, where classmates included John H. Johnson and Nat King Cole.
Black worked with activists Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois in the ’40s and ’50s; alongside Dr. Martin Luther King in the ’60s. He was heavily involved in King’s Chicago Freedom Movement, and helped organize Chicagoans’ participation in the ’63 March on Washington. Over the course of seven decades, he helped establish and was active in over 100 civil rights/labor organizations.
And Black was instrumental in the election of Chicago’s first black mayor, in 1983, as well as the election of the nation’s first black president, in 2008. NABJ-Chicago is honored to host a fireside chat with this icon at our annual Black History Month Forum.