Timuel Black shown here at 98 years old. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times
“Tim spent decades chronicling and lifting up Black Chicago history. But he also made plenty of history himself.” former President Barack Obama said.
Tributes poured in from former colleagues, friends, admirers and more for activist, educator and historian Timuel Black, who died Wednesday at 102.
Shortly after news of Black’s passing broke, former President Barack Obama released a statement on behalf of himself and former first lady Michelle Obama.
“Over his 102 years,” Obama said, “Tim was many things: a veteran, historian, author, educator, civil rights leader, and humanitarian. But above all, Tim was a testament to the power of place, and how the work we do to improve one community can end up reverberating through other neighborhoods and other cities, eventually changing the world.
“Today, Michelle and I send our thoughts to Tim’s wife Zenobia, and everyone who loved and admired this truly incredible man.”
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) said Black was at “the heartbeat of the Black community, the Chicago community, the national community, and the international community,” from Nelson Mandela’s struggle and eventual election in South Africa to Obama’s historic presidential win in 2008.
“One of my favorite memories of Tim was being present when he was telling Herbie Hancock about his relationship with Herbie’s father and seeing the glean in Herbie Hancock’s eyes as he told the story,” Rush recalled in his statement. “Tim’s enthusiasm as an author and educator was inspiring, and his impact is utterly incalculable.”
Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina in Auburn Gresham, wrote on Twitter, “Chicago lost an Icon today. TIMUEL BLACK was a Historian. Activist, and friend. He sought to make the World a more Just, fair and Better Place…Nobody knew more about Chicago’s Black History than him…Rest in Power my friend.”
Chicago lost an Icon today. TIMUEL BLACK was a Historian. Activist, and friend. He sought to make the World a more Just, fair and Better Place…Nobody knew more about Chicago’s Black History than him…Rest in Power my friend
— Fr. Michael Pfleger (@MichaelPfleger) October 13, 2021