TImuel Black, a Chicago historian, educator, and civil rights leader, has passed away at 102, CNN reports.
Zenobia Johnson-Black, Black’s wife, confirmed her husband’s passing.
“I just can’t imagine life without him,” she said. “He’s been so supportive and has been my protector, my confidante. I miss him already,”
Former President Barack Obama took to Twitter and remembered Black as an “icon.”
“Over his 102 years, Tim was many things: a veteran, historian, author, educator, civil rights leader, and humanitarian. Michelle and I send our thoughts to his family, and everyone who loved him,” his tweet read.
The University of Chicago, his alma mater, released a statement noting Black’s significant contributions to the school and community.
“Timuel Black dedicated his life to helping communities across Chicago, especially on the South Side,” said Derek Douglas, vice president for civic engagement and external affairs at UChicago. “His unparalleled understanding of the area’s history and people made him an outstanding advocate, a trusted counselor, and a consummate community partner. He was deeply committed to educating and inspiring young people—a mission that he advanced with the University of Chicago through the creation of the Timuel D. Black Community Solidarity Scholarship.
Born on Dec. 7, 1918, in Birmingham, Alabama, Black relocated with his family to Chicago as part of the great migration a year later.
As a teenager, he began as an activist by walking picket lines to protest white-only employment in Bronzeville’s shopping district.
He attended DuSable High School, where he was classmates with John Johnson, founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, and legendary musician Nat King Cole.
Black served in the military during World War II at Normandy and Battle of the Bulge. He fought segregation in the armed forces and was awarded four battle stars on his tour of duty.
He graduated from Roosevelt University with his bachelor’s degree and received his master’s degree at the University of Chicago before becoming a teacher.
Black advocated for racial equality, open housing in a segregated Chicago, and union organizing throughout the 50s and 60s.
He advised Mayor Harold Washington and President Barack Obama.
For his 100th birthday, the University of Chicago hosted Black’s 100th birthday celebration in 2018, he received the French Legion of Armor.
In addition to his wife Zenobia, Black is survived by his daughter Ermetra. He was preceded in death by his sons Timuel Kerrigan Black and Anthony Said Johnson.
Dates for Black’s memorial service will be released in the coming days.
EBONY sends our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Timuel D. Black.