Watch CBS News

Timuel Black, Civil Rights Icon And Historian, Dead At 102

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Timuel Black, a prominent civil rights activist, author, and historian, has died at the age of 102.

Mr. Black's widow, Zenobia Johnson-Black, confirmed his passing Wednesday afternoon.

Few people knew more about Chicago's Black history than Mr. Black. At age 102, he had seen his share.

Dr. Black moved to Bronzeville in 1919 and was one of the first graduates of DuSable High School.

He served in the military during World War II, participating in the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge, and witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust when he visited the Buchenwald concentration camp after it was liberated.

He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, helped get the late Mayor Harold Washington elected in 1983, wrote books, and counseled many.

"Today, the city of Chicago and the world lost an icon with the passing of Timuel Black," former President Obama said in a statement. "Tim spent decades chronicling and lifting up Black Chicago history. But he also made plenty of history himself."

"Over his 102 years, Tim was many things: a veteran, historian, author, educator, civil rights leader, and humanitarian. But above all, Tim was a testament to the power of place, and how the work we do to improve one community can end up reverberating through other neighborhoods and other cities, eventually changing the world," Obama added. "Today, Michelle and I send our thoughts to Tim's wife Zenobia, and everyone who loved and admired this truly incredible man."

State Street between 49th and 50th streets carries the honorary name Dr. Timuel Black Street. Dr. Black is also the first recipient of the city of Chicago's Champion of Freedom award, and was the first honoree inducted into the Illinois Black Hall of Fame at Governors State University this past March.

Mr. Black had recently begun receiving hospice care due to his failing health.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.