Timuel Black celebrates 102nd birthday

Professor Timuel Black and his wife Zenobia Johnson-Black sit in lawn chairs near 49th Street enjoying the 102nd birthday wishes of community residents as they drive in procession south along Drexel Blvd on Monday, Dec. 7. Professor Black reflected on the sacrifices President Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King and others have made, and on the challenges of the current political environment, saying, “We have an obligation now to make the new President the kind of President that is represented by former (leaders) like … Barack Obama.”

Local historian and activist Timuel Black, 102, has entered hospice care in his Kenwood home, according to a fundraiser started on Wednesday, Oct. 6, to help cover the cost of treatment. 

“We don’t know how much time Tim has with us, but we want him to be as comfortable and with as much dignity as possible. We owe him that,” organizers wrote. “All of the funds raised here will go directly to Tim’s wife and loving partner Zenobia, in order to provide adequate nursing care, and help with all necessary expenses in the coming period.” 

As of Thursday afternoon, more than $60,000 had been donated, exceeding the $50,000 target amount. 

Black was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1918 and moved to Chicago shortly after with his family as part of the Great Migration — a subject that he would later take up in his “Bridges of Memory,” a pair of books containing oral histories from other migrants. He served in World War II, held jobs as a teacher and social worker, and was heavily involved in civil rights organizing. 

He has also been a longtime participant in Hyde Park-Kenwood’s political scene, helping Harold Washington in his successful mayoral campaigns and running for office several times on his own. 

In 2019, he published a memoir, “Sacred Ground.” In the introduction, he writes: “I worried that this book might seem vain or egotistical. The fact is, I don’t give a damn about Tim Black as some sort of shining light. I consider my story to be fairly typical of men and women of my generation….My story’s typical-ness is precisely where its value lies. What might be learned from our stories?” 

Donate to Black’s fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/f/te3n4?utm_campaign

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