Timuel Black honored at 1st Unitarian

Timuel Black stands between his wife, Zenobia (L), and mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle after a ceremony at the First Unitarian Church, 5655 S. Woodlawn Ave, that was held to celebrate Black’s 100th birthday. (Photo by Owen Lawson III)

Herald intern

First Unitarian Church of Chicago, located 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave., worshipped and celebrated the 100th birthday of one of its longest tenured members, Timuel Black, on Sunday.

Black as been a member of the First Unitarian Church for more than 60 years. He is a soldier, teacher, civil rights leader, and political activist. He has a long history of service both to his country and community. Born in Birmingham, Ala., Black and his family moved to Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood as part of the Great Migration. He served in the 308th Quartermaster Railhead Company and survived the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of Bulge. He was educated at Burke Elementary School and DuSable High He graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts Sociology from Roosevelt University and went on to earn his master’s from the University of Chicago in 1954.

He is responsible for bringing Dr .Martin Luther King Jr. to the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, King’s first major address in Chicago. He organized the Freedom Trains, which took thousands of Chicagoans to the March on Washington. He also helped Harold Washington Jr. be elected as the first African American mayor of Chicago.

Roman Catholic priest and social activist Michael Pfleger made a guest appearance. “We are excited to pay homage to Tim Black. It is fitting that we honor him for a lifetime of unparalleled service to the community.”

American politician and current Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle made a guest appearance as well.

Following the church service, a forum was hosted by Susan and Mike Klonsky. It focused on Black’s book, “Sacred Ground: The Chicago Streets of Timuel Black” by Timuel Black as told to educator, writer, and community activist Susan Blonksky and edited by Bart Shultz.

It is the personal memoir of Black, whose life and times from 1919 to the present capture pivotal moments in Chicago history as well as the civil rights movement in Chicago.