CHICAGO — Chicago civil rights icon Timuel Black has died at the age of 102, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Earlier this month, Black entered hospice care.
Black was an organizer of the March on Washington in 1963 and dedicated his life to teaching the history of Black America to the next generation.
In February, WGN News’ Micah Materre interviewed Black after he turned 102 in December 2020.
Born in Alabama, his parents, sharecroppers, were a part of the first Great Migration from the South to the North. Black was brought to Chicago when he was one.
He said his parents had plenty of reasons to want to leave the South.
“To fight back from the Ku Klux Klan, to vote for the first Black congressman, Oscar de Priest, and to be able to have quality education for their children,” he said.
During his long life, Black served during World War II, but noticed racism existed behind enemy lines as well.
He was drafted and landed smack dab in the middle of a segregated Army. Black said African American troops were mistreated and persecuted. Black received four bronze medals from the Battle of the Bulge and came out without a scratch. But internally, he was battered and bruised.
He said he used that fire to ake on a racist and segregated city. He received a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University in 1949, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and then went on to a teaching career.
He went on to invite Dr. King to speak in Chicago. Later, as president of the Chicago chapter of the Negro American Labor Council, he helped organize King’s march in 1966 in Marquette Park.
“I feel that the end is on its way, but I have the feeling of ‘I’ve done the best that I could every day,’ that is my reward,” Black told WGN News earlier this year. “That when the end comes I will leave with hardly no regrets, because I did the best I could.”
A GoFundMe to help his family with medical expenses has raised over $100,000 at this time.