Timuel Black


October 17, 2021

Timuel Dixon Black Jr. (December 7, 1918 Birmingham, Alabama - October 13, 2021) was an American historian, war veteran, human rights activist, author, and professor of Chicago African American history. Black was a member of the Defending Rights & Dissent (DRD) council.


Timuel Black was born on December 7, 1918 in the Alabama city of Birmingham. His parents were sharecroppers; his grandparents were born as slaves but were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Black grew up in Chicago's South Side borough, graduating from DuSable High School in 1937. He then completed a bachelor's degree at Roosevelt University. Finally, Black completed his master's degree at the University of Chicago. During World War II, Black was drafted into the United States Army. For his exceptional service during the war, he was awarded four Battle Stars, a War Cross and the National Order of the Legion of Honour. Black began his career as a social worker. In the 1960s, he was chairman of the Negro American Labor Council (Chicago Chapter). He was also one of the initiators of Chicago's participation in the 1963 March on Washington. Black was the plaintiff in the Black v. McGuffage lawsuit. The case concerned the voting system in Illinois, which discriminated against Chicago's black and Hispanic neighborhoods because defective punched card ballots prevented citizens from casting valid votes in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. After the Black v. McGuffage lawsuit, these punched card ballots were abolished; a uniform voting system was introduced. In October 2021, it was reported that Black was staying in a hospice at his home in Chicago. He died there on October 13, 2021.


In 2017, Senator Dick Durbin introduced a tribute to Black into the Congressional Record. Durbin did this on the occasion of the annual Pauls Award Black received that year from Citizen Action Illinois. The Pauls Award is named after Paul Simon and Paul Wellstone, who described Black as a visionary and personal hero.In 2019 the memoir Sacred Ground: The Chicago Streets of Timuel Black was published. These memoirs of Black were published by American writer and activist Susan Klonsky, edited by philosopher Bart Schultzge. It features interviews with Black about South Side's African American history.


In 2010, Timuel Black visited the Netherlands because he was invited to the Martin Luther King Tribute & Dinner: an annual commemorative event of Martin Luther King in Wassenaar. During his visit to the Netherlands, Black also visited the Freedom Museum in Groesbeek and the Notre Dame des Anges havo school in Ubbergen.

See also

James Baldwin Fred Shuttlesworth Birmingham campaign African American Civil Rights Movement

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