Civil Service

Chicago, Illinois

With the promise, Timuel had made for himself he went back to Chicago and devoted the rest of his life to public service, political equality and social activism. In 1946, Tim married his first wife Norisea Cummings and they had two children together Ermetra and Timuel Kerrigan Black. The marriage did end in divorce, but he later remarried in the 1980s to Zenobia. Timuel worked hard on his education earning a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University in 1949 and a master’s degree in 1952 from the University of Chicago. While teaching in the 1950s in Gary, Indiana, Timuel heard for the first time, Martin Luther King Jr. speaking in Montgomery, Alabama about the segregation between blacks and whites in the United States. The next day Tim traveled down to Alabama and met Martin Luther King for the first time and started to help in the Civil Rights movement. After meeting King, Tim organized thousands of students and locals of Chicago to take the trains to Washington D.C. to participate in the March on Washington. “When Dr. King came on stage and put into eloquent terms, that ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, all of us were in tears,” Black says. Tim would continue to follow Martin Luther King in his dream of desegregating the United States until his death in 1963. Continuing the work that Martin Luther King started, Tim helped in Congressman Harold Washington’s campaign for mayor of Chicago 1983. Congressman Washington won the election and became the first African-American mayor of the city of Chicago. In 1989 after decades of teaching hundreds of students, Tim decided to retire from teaching. While being retired, Tim has written two publications entitled Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s First Wave of Black Migration and Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s Second Generation of Black Migration. In 2012 the University of Chicago awarded, Timuel with the William Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service. You can still find Timuel Black Jr. In Bronzeville in the Fall and Winter months giving tours, to whoever wants to listen. Tim feels that his life of public service has helped fulfill the promise he made to himself several decades earlier in a concentration camp in the middle of Europe.