Timuel Black’s funeral: private service for Chicago civil rights activist

CHICAGO (WLS) – Friends and family gathered for the funeral of civil rights activist Timuel Black on Friday, just ahead of his 103rd birthday.

Chicago historian and educator passed away last week at the age of 102.

His wife, Zenobia, and other family members surrounded his casket as they remembered a life that touched so many.

“Timuel Black was a historian who knew history, who taught history and who shaped the history of this city and this world,” said Father Michael Pfleger.

“Thank God for the time we spent with Timuel Black, thank God for all he has done to enrich our lives and our city,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

WATCH | Timuel Black’s private funeral in Chicago

Black has witnessed key moments in modern history. His family was part of the Great Northern Migration, and after experiencing the sting of racism on the South Side of Chicago, he dedicated his life to speaking out and righting injustices.

“I have walked with him to many places, many times over the years. I wouldn’t be anywhere else but here today,” said Nikki Stein, who was his former student at Hyde Park High School.

RELATED | Activist and historian Timuel Black reflects on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Black was instrumental in bringing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Chicago to deliver his first major speech in the area. He later became a political organizer and supported Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign. When Barack Obama was a young community organizer in Chicago, Black helped him. He became a trusted lawyer for Obama when he ran for president in 2008.
The private funeral service included a eulogy from Father Michael Pfleger and words from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Senator Dick Durbin and others.

“There might not have been President Barack Obama without Tim Black. Or Mayor Harold Washington, or Senator Carol Mosley Braun,” said Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

“I want to thank him for being a soldier in WWII. We don’t have many of this great generation left, and he surely was,” said Toni Preckwinkle, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the World War II. Cook County.

“His purpose was to help everyone with love, joy and a life well lived reflected in Tim’s eyes, his face, his smile,” said Peggy Montes, president emeritus of the DuSable Museum of African American History.

“Timuel was indeed the wisest of old, but he was still young. And always ready to roll up his sleeves and get involved,” said Pfleger. “Well done, Brother Black, you did what you said you wanted to do… you made the world a better place. “

Thursday afternoon, friends and admirers paid tribute to Timuel Black in its wake in the Grand Crossing neighborhood of Chicago.

RELATED | Chicago Civil Rights Leader Timuel Black Shares Lessons From Spanish Flu For COVID-19 Pandemic

On December 5, there will be a public memorial at Rockefeller Chapel, the same church that hosted Dr. King at Black’s invitation in 1956.
There will also be a public memorial service in December at the University of Chicago.

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