timuel black

‘He Was a Giver:' Chicago Civil Rights Icon Timuel Black Remembered for Activism

Black’s activism started as a teenager, walking picket lines to protest white-only employment in Bronzeville’s shopping district.

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Timuel Dixon Black, a prominent Chicago civil rights activist, was remembered Friday as someone who helped shape the city's history and shared wisdom with younger generations.

Black, a highly-celebrated centenarian in the city who died Oct. 13 at 102 years old, was laid to rest at First Unitarian Church of Chicago.

He spent decades on the front lines of the struggle for civil rights in the United States, working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helping to get the late Mayor Harold Washington elected in 1983.

"It is difficult to lose someone who touched us so deeply – shaped history so profoundly," Rev. Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of Saint Sabina Church, said a homecoming service Friday.

Timuel Dixon Black, a prominent Chicago civil rights activist, had strong connections to the city's community. On the day of his passing, city leaders reflected on his many accomplishments. NBC 5's Christian Farr reports.

Black was born Dec. 7, 1918 to sharecroppers in Birmingham, Alabama. A year later, he and his family moved to Chicago as part of the great migration — and never left.

Black’s activism started as a teenager, walking picket lines to protest white-only employment in Bronzeville’s shopping district.

In the mid-1950s, Black became very active in the civil rights movement. He advocated for racial equality, open housing in a segregated Chicago and union organizing.

"He was a giver... than he took," said Carol Moseley Braun, a former U.S. Senator from Illinois.

Black worked with Dr. Martin Luther King when he was in Chicago, and led a group of Chicagoans to the 1963 March on Washington.

A few decades later, he helped spearhead the voter registration campaign credited with assisting in the election of the late Mayor Harold Washington. He also worked with former President Barack Obama.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who spoke at Friday's service, said she was "fortunate enough" to visit with Black before his death.

"I sat at his feet... who nurtured and cared for so many over the years," she said.

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