Timuel Black in 2018, when he was interviewed on his 100th birthday. | Rich Hein / Sun-Times file
Mr. Black, a political and civil rights activist, educator, historian, prolific author and revered elder statesman and griot of Chicago’s Black community, died Wednesday.
Activist, educator, historian Timuel Black, the revered elder statesman and griot of Chicago’s Black community, was active in every major movement of any notable American era and spent the latter half of his life telling stories from our nation’s blueprint — in oral and literary form.
“I consider Dec. 7, 1918, a famous day in history,” the lifelong labor, political and civil rights activist said of his birth date as he reflected on his storied life at a celebration when he turned 100.
A retired sociology and anthropology professor with City Colleges of Chicago, a former Chicago Public Schools high school history teacher and a pioneer in the independent Black political movement who coined the phrase “plantation politics,” Mr. Black died Wednesday.
“I just can’t imagine life without him. He’s been so supportive and has been my protector, my confidante. I miss him already,” said Zenobia Johnson-Black, his wife of 40 years.
“Tim left his mark on this city, on his friends who knew him and on those who knew of him, and he would like for his legacy to be an inspiration to people who are trying to make this world a better place, because that’s all he tried to do,” his wife said.
The revered community leader and scholar was 102.
“My mother and father were children of former slaves, my great-grandparents, products of the Emancipation Proclamation,” the Chicago treasure said in a Chicago Sun-Times interview when he turned 100. “I came up in a time when African American men — women, too — were being lynched, the racial segregation so terrible, people were fleeing to escape the terrorism.”
Celebrating his becoming a centenarian, the University of Chicago had sponsored “A Symposium on the Life and Times of Tim Black,” followed the next day with the Vivian G. Harsh Society’s “100 Years: Music and Memories, Tim Black’s Bestest Birthday Party,” held at the South Shore Cultural Center.
“I suppose, when you live to 100, it’s worth celebrating,” the World War II veteran said then.
The weekend of celebrations was organized by a Tim Black 100 Committee that included U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, U. of C. president Robert Zimmer and civil rights attorney James Montgomery.
Jackson, writing a review of Mr. Black’s memoir that came out a month later, said: “For 100 years and counting, Timuel Black has been an eyewitness — and a participant — in the movement for social, racial and economic justice in America. He is a historian and a hero.”
When he heard that Mr. Black was in hospice, Jackson said: “He means so much to me. Tim Black is a giant among us.”
Mr. Black’s memoir “Sacred Ground: The Chicago Streets of Timuel Black” was released on Jan. 15, 2019 …read more
Source:: Chicago Sun Times
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