Sunday Feb. 11, 2007 – Dr. Timuel D. Black Jr. reads from the second volume of his oral history of Chicago’s Black Belt, _Bridges of Memory_, at the Woodson Library at 95th and Halsted, Chicago. The 90-year-old college professor and civil rights activist spent his entire life on the South Side.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Timuel Black Jr., a scholar who set out to make a difference
At 90, longtime professor is a chronicler of the history of black Chicago and the struggle for equal rights
By Lolly Bowean Tribune reporter
February 1, 2009

Timuel Black Jr. is supposed to be retired, yet on most days he can be found hosting tours of the South Side, giving lectures or consulting on book projects.

In a long career, Black, 90, has made it his business to chronicle the history of black Chicago and the struggle for equal rights.

“I want people to understand I’m a guy who experienced all this,” he said.Black was a teacher in public schools for 40 years and was dean of transfer programs at what is now Wright College, vice president of Olive-Harvey College and a professor at what is now Harold Washington College. He has written two books and is at work on a third.

Black came to Chicago from Birmingham, Ala., in 1919 when he was 8 months old; his family was part of the first big wave of African-Americans who migrated to access more opportunities. They settled on the South Side and built neighborhoods where the more affluent and educated lived side by side with those not as accomplished.

“It was a community of joy because there was so much hope,” he said. “There was a friendship and kinship.”

Black has lived through discrimination and restrictive housing covenants, marches, protests, riots and change. He has seen businesses come and go, crime plague neighborhoods, the destruction of public housing complexes and the revamping of his Bronzeville community. And he has seen the nation elect its first black president.

These days, it seems much of Black’s time is spent picking up awards, including honors from the Jazz Institute of Chicago, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chicago Magazine. Each time, he says, it’s humbling.

“I decided the rest of my life would be spent trying to make this a better world,” he said. “I’m not through yet.”

Chicago historian Timuel Black describes how racism in Hyde Park and its schools helped shape Jeff Fort and the Blackstone Rangers

The HistoryMakers Project interviewed Black in 2000. Click on the link to find the videos.

Chicago Public Radio did a piece remembering Harold Washington and asked Timuel Black to give his recollections.


Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s Second Generation of Black Migration, Timuel D., Jr. Black (Author)

Bridges of Memory Volume 2: Chicago’s Second Generation of Black Migration (v. 2) , Timuel D. Black Jr. (Author), Lerone Bennett Jr. (Foreword), Valerie Gerrard Browne (Foreword)

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