Timuel D. Black, Jr. Super Series
Biography and Family Records | Manuscripts | Correspondence
Audiovisual | Organizational Files | Funeral Programs
Event Programs | Subject Research Files | Serials | Clippings
Photographs | Awards and Plaques | Memorabilia
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|Provenance:||Donation of Timuel D. Black, Jr., which began May 29, 2003. Black continued the donations through 2010. Michael Flug, senior archivist, visited Timuel and Zenobia Black’s home over a period of some seven years to pack and collect materials. In addition, DePaul University Library’s Archives and Special Collections donated two linear feet of materials created by Timuel Black during his appointment at DePaul’s Monsignor John J. Egan Urban Center (1990-2004). These materials were transferred to the Harsh Research Collection in October 2010.|
|Size:||336 linear feet (257 archival boxes)|
|Repository:||Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library (Chicago Public Library), 9525 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60628|
|Citation:||When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Timuel D. Black, Jr. Papers (Box #, Folder #), Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library|
|Processed By:||Beverly Cook, Assistant Curator of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library; assisted by Jeanie Child, Harsh Archival Processing Project|
Timuel Black was born in Birmingham, Ala., on December 7, 1918, and planted in Chicago when he was less than a year old. He put down roots here, and never left. Timuel Black’s Bronzeville in the 1920s and 1930s was a place of much poverty and some wealth, a center for music and sports, and a terrain where demonstrations could break out at any time. As a teenager, he walked a picket line protesting white-only employment in stores on 47th Street, in Bronzeville’s main shopping district, warning shoppers: “Don’t Spend Your Money Where You Can’t Work.”
He was educated at Burke Elementary School and DuSable High School. At both schools he formed friendships that he maintained throughout his life. After graduating from high school, Tim worked at several ma-and-pa stores. When World War II broke out in September 1939, Timuel Black was working at a grocery store at 59th Street and Michigan Avenue. Later he was an agent for Robert Cole’s Chicago Metropolitan Assurance Company; for a short time he left Chicago, working at Greenbaum Tannery in Milwaukee. Like many others, he had a hard time finding work during the Depression.
The United States’ combat entry into World War II began with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Timuel Black’s 23rd birthday. By August 1943, he was inducted into the 308th Quartermaster Railhead Company, a “forward supply unit,” with all black troops and nearly all white officers. Shipped to Europe, he landed on the beach in Normandy when the Germans were sending saboteurs to blow up supplies. “We were awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palms because we helped save the butts of everyone on that beach,” Black said. By November 1944 he was in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge. Although his unit suffered many casualties in D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, Black was not wounded. Through the racism and discrimination of army life, Black still went on to receive four bronze battle stars by the end of the war. Discharged in late 1945, he returned to a segregated Chicago.
Timuel Black met and married Norisea Cummings in 1946. They had two children, Ermetra and Timuel Kerrigan Black. Even though their marriage ended in divorce, they worked together to ensure their children’s future.
The war had changed Black and other returning veterans. Many African Americans had fought, and many died, to preserve the American ideology of freedom. Seeing Chicago’s segregation all over again, Black was firmly committed to the ideals of public service, political equality and social activism. He went back to his old job at the Metropolitan Assurance Company, where he was quickly fired for attempting to organize the agents into a union.
He enrolled at Roosevelt University in 1949. After graduating in 1952, he entered the University of Chicago, earning a master’s degree there. By 1954, he was student teaching at DuSable High School, his alma mater. Black officially began his teaching career at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Ind., in 1954. Two years later, he returned to DuSable and taught there until 1959.
The political and social landscape of Chicago changed after the war. During Martin Kennelly’s term as mayor, there was a break between political leaders in the black community and City Hall. Mayor Richard J. Daley succeeded Kennelly. In 1955, the brutal murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old victim of lynching in Mississippi, sent shockwaves of anger throughout the black community nationally. Till’s funeral in Chicago drew huge crowds and provoked mass protests. Three years later came a new organization—the Chicago League of Negro Voters. This independent black electoral organization, in which Timuel Black participated, was the first to challenge City Hall’s control over the “Negro vote.” A year later, the league blossomed into the “March on Conventions Movement,” staffed by Bennett Johnson and Timuel Black. This movement led mass marches to the site of the 1960 Republican convention. By this time, both Black and Johnson were teaching at Farragut High School on Chicago’s West Side. Both men were active in support for the 1960 Southern lunch counter sit-ins. After they invited one of the sit-in leaders to Farragut, Johnson was fired by the Chicago Public Schools.
The new, rapidly growing civil rights movement also targeted “racism within the House of Labor.” Agitation over discrimination in the job market, and lack of action against it by some trade unions, produced a new organization, the Negro American Labor Council (NALC). Timuel Black, a teachers’ union activist, was elected president of the Chicago chapter. He remained its president throughout the civil rights movement. NALC grew quickly, recruiting nearly 1,000 black workers as members. In its early years, the chapter focused on breaking down racial exclusion in skilled trades apprenticeship programs at the Chicago Board of Education’s Washburne Trade School. After studying exclusion at Washburne, Black presented NALC findings to the Chicago Board of Education. The board ignored him, but he was able to persuade Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. to temporarily block federal funds to Washburne. Mayor Richard J. Daley later went to the White House and eventually got the money released, but NALC continued its efforts to integrate Washburne.
Throughout all these protests, Timuel Black was working as a teacher at Hyde Park High School. In 1963, A. Phillip Randolph, the national president of the Negro American Labor Council, tapped Black to be the Chicago coordinator of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He was successful beyond all expectations. Thousands of returning marchers, energized by their numbers and by inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., vowed to shake up their city. To that end, a host of civil rights organizations, including the NALC, NAACP, CORE, SNCC and the new Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) organized the October 22, 1963 “freedom march” and boycott of the Chicago Public Schools. A quarter of a million students participated. Many marched on school headquarters, chanting “Willis Must Go!” and “No More Segregated Schools.”
During the 1963 municipal elections, a coalition of seven independent black candidates, including Timuel Black, challenged incumbent African American aldermen who were aligned with Mayor Richard J. Daley and with Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Benjamin Willis. At a press conference for the campaign, Black said it was time to “end plantation politics” in Chicago. He did not win the aldermanic race, but the phrase became nationally famous.
Timuel Black severed his relationship with the Chicago Public Schools in 1966. For the next three years he served as assistant director of the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Chicago Teacher Corps, coordinating its community activities. Black was appointed dean of Wright College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago, in 1969; he was promoted to vice president for academic affairs at Olive Harvey College in 1972. In the summer of 1973, he received an unexpected two-sentence memo from Dr. Charles Kidd, acting president of Olive Harvey College, announcing “the abolishment” of Black’s position. Kidd was acting on orders from City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Oscar Shabat. Black responded with a letter to Dr. Oscar Shabat detailing the events leading to his termination and asking for an official reason for his dismissal.
The college and president’s office received a deluge of complaints and negative publicity over Black’s termination. Students, faculty, civil rights organizations and activists mounted a written protest campaign. Lu Palmer and Vernon Jarrett penned newspaper columns and flooded the air waves with the story. This tide of negative publicity forced the City Colleges to rescind his termination. Black was rehired and promoted to the new position of director and chairperson of community affairs for the City Colleges. The wide-ranging duties of this position allowed Timuel Black to interact with all the city colleges and foster relationships between the city colleges, communities and private organizations. Due to budget cuts in 1975, Black’s position was eliminated and he resumed teaching duties at Loop College (now Harold Washington College). He held a professorship there until he formally retired from the City Colleges in 1989.
Timuel and his wife, Zenobia, met while doing campaign work for Congressman Harold Washington in 1982. Timuel was co-chairing the 1st Congressional District Education Task Force, and Zenobia was a member of the Housing Task Force. Zenobia Johnson-Black is a second generation Chicagoan, educated in the Chicago public school system and an alumna of Chicago State University. She later said they dated, married and spent their honeymoon doing voter registration work for Washington’s 1983 mayoral campaign.
In response to conditions set by Congressman Harold Washington to enter the 1983 mayoral race, Timuel Black, Lu Palmer, Zenobia Johnson-Black, Oscar Worrill and Nate Clay organized the “People’s Movement for a Voter’s Registration.” Black told the activists: “We must agitate, organize, educate and register to vote.” This organization and several other grassroots organizations like P.O.W.E.R. (People Organized for Welfare and Employment Rights) from the West Side, the Uptown coalition and Midwest Community Council worked together tirelessly to educate, train and mobilize African American voters. Church basements, community centers and union halls became venues for political education classes. Harold Washington’s campaign was a grassroots effort, and Timuel Black was visible in just about every political committee that catapulted Harold Washington into the fifth floor of City Hall in 1983.
Even though Black officially retired in 1989, he never stopped teaching and working. He taught courses at Roosevelt University, lectured at DePaul University and Columbia College, and worked on the Black Metropolis Oral History Project for more than 10 years. The Black Metropolis Oral History Project had three components: oral history interviews of more than 100 people, his own autobiography and a monograph on “Bronzeville and the Great Migration.”
Throughout Timuel Black’s life, organizational consciousness was paramount. Black began his activist career while he was still a teenager by advocating “Don’t Spend Your Money Where You Can’t Work” and picketing stores that would not hire African Americans. He went on to promote desegregation in the armed forces, open housing, independent African American political activity and union organizing. In 1960 Black was instrumental in the founding of the Negro American Labor Council, Chicago Chapter after the AFL-CIO refused to discipline member unions that discriminated against African Americans. Researchers will find extensive working papers of the NALC in the organization series, along with the evidence of Black’s role in civil rights work in other groups. Important organizations in which Black played a leading role in the 1960s include Americans for Democratic Action, Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, Independent Voters of Illinois, Chicago League of Negro Voters, Teachers for Integrated Schools, Teachers for Quality Education, Congress of Racial Equality, Coordinating Council of Community Organizations and the 1963 March on Washington. He also entered politics as an independent aldermanic candidate opposed to what he saw as support for continued segregation by Chicago’s political establishment.
The 1970s saw Black utilizing his position in the administration of the City Colleges of Chicago to solidify civil rights progress through systemic reform and to strengthen coalitions. Black extended his scholarly and professional affiliations, both locally and nationally, in the National Alliance of Black School Educators, Black Faculty in Higher Education and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
In the 1980s Timuel Black served on the 1st Congressional District Office’s Education Task Force, with local and national political implications. As a member of Harold Washington’s inner circle, he helped manage the 1983 mayoral campaign, particularly the registration of voters (People’s Movement for Voter Registration, United Black Voters of Illinois).
The Monsignor John J. Egan Urban Center at DePaul University was dedicated in February 1995 to act as an information catalyst and provide support for community groups and individuals attempting to find grassroots solutions to communitywide problems. Timuel Black was named its first African American member and gave its inaugural lecture on May 11, 1995, while working on his Black Metropolis Oral History Project. As he began more than 70 years ago, building coalitions and educating people in an effort to make the world a better place, he continues the fight today. The late Vernon Jarrett said: “Timuel Black displays a missing ingredient in today’s professionals—organizational initiative.”
- Anderson, Alan B. and George W. Pickering. Confronting the Color Line. University of Georgia Press, 1986.
- Black, Timuel. Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s Second Generation of Black Migration. Vols. 1 and 2. Forewords by Lerone Bennett, Jr. and Valerie Gerrard Browne. Northwestern University Press, 2007.
- Black, Timuel. “A Night to Remember.” Chicago Sun-Times, October 29, 1999.
- Black, Timuel. “Tim Black’s Letter to Shabat.” Citizen newspapers, July 19, 1973.
- Drake, St. Clair. Black Metropolis, A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City. University of Chicago, 1993.
- Homel, Michael W. Down from Equality: Black Chicagoans and the Public Schools, 1920-41. University of Illinois Press, 1984.
- Invisible Soldier: The Experiences of the Black Soldier. Compiled and edited by Mary Penick Motley; foreword by Howard Donovan Queen. Wayne State University Press, 1975.
- James, Dante. Interview with Timuel Black. WETA Public Television and Radio, A. Philip Randolph Film Project, 1995.
Timuel D. Black, Jr. Papers are divided into two super series: Timuel D. Black, Jr. Papers and the Children of Timuel D. Black, Jr. Papers. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, audiovisual materials, organizational records, funeral programs, serials, photographs, clippings, subject research files, plaques and memorabilia. There was little original arrangement in the papers as they were accessioned. Much of the present arrangement was created by staff of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature.
Related archival collections at the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature include: the Abbott-Sengstacke Family Papers, Abdul Alkalimat Papers, Brenetta Howell Barrett Papers, the Chicago CORE Archives, Chicago SNCC History Project Archives, Charles Davis Papers, Richard Durham Papers, Charles Evans Papers, Charles Hayes Papers, Illinois Writers Project: “Negro in Illinois” Papers, Myrtis Minor Papers, Alice and Edward “Buzz” Palmer Papers, Leonard Wash Papers and Rev. Addie and Rev. Claude Wyatt Papers.
A small collection of Timuel Black’s papers is also held at the Chicago History Museum. For information on the Harold Washington election campaigns, see also the Harold Washington Papers in Special Collections at the Harold Washington Library Center.
Super Series 1: Timuel D. Black, Jr.
Predominant Dates: 1960-2010, Inclusive Dates 1918-2010
This super series has been arranged in 13 series: Biography and Family Records, Manuscripts, Correspondence, Audiovisual, Organizational Files, Funeral Programs, Event Programs, Subject Research Files, Serials, Clippings, Photographs, Awards and Plaques, and Memorabilia.
Series 1: Biography and Family Records, 1919-2009
The biographical series is arranged in two sub-series: family records (Boxes 1 and 2) and employment records (Boxes 3-9). Family records contain birth and death certificates, Black’s curriculum vitae, early financial documents, education and extensive clipping files of Timuel Black’s wide-ranging activities as an academic and advocate for civil rights, civil liberties and preservation of African American culture. All are arranged by folder, topic and then chronologically. Of special interest is a Quinn Chapel “Beacon” newsletter that Timuel Black’s mother saved as a keepsake from the family’s first church visit after migrating to Chicago.
The bulk of the Biography series is composed of the employment sub-series. These materials reflect Black’s multifaceted academic career as a Chicago public high school teacher (1955-1966); as a teacher and administrator at Chicago City Colleges (1969-1989); as an academic professor at various other local institutions of higher learning (1960s-1990s) to his retirement and active emeritus status after 1989. The materials in the employment sub-series vary by source of creation. There are few documents highlighting his teaching in Gary, Ind., and his years with the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Chicago Teachers Corps. There is a rich and varied collection of materials documenting his years at the City Colleges of Chicago, including correspondence, general curriculum materials, workshop contents, syllabi, lecture notes and sample tests created by Black.
Series 2: Manuscripts, 1957-2007
Manuscript materials are arranged into four sub-series: general manuscripts and writings by Timuel D. Black, Jr., 1960s-2007; the Bridges of Memory oral history project tape transcriptions (1991-2005); Phillips High School and DuSable High School oral history transcripts (1991-1996); and manuscripts by persons other than Timuel D. Black, Jr. that were sent to him (1957-2005).
The general manuscripts and other writings by Timuel D. Black, Jr. include the handwritten and typed drafts prepared for his letters, newspaper columns, articles, books, statements, testimony, speeches and press releases. The materials have been arranged by those categories, chronologically within folders where possible. Undated and/or unidentified materials, many just fragments, have been separated. Researchers should note that most of Black’s writings were created through his activity in a particular organization or endeavor, and that much more information may be found in related files in the Biography and Family Records, Organizational Files and Subject Research Files. Topics addressed by Black in his writings include the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties; labor unionization; educational reform of the Chicago Public Schools; promoting African American history in social science curricula; achieving political power through the ballot and the history of jazz in Chicago.
The Bridges of Memory oral history project began as Timuel D. Black’s long-held dream to document untold stories of Chicago’s African American community and its integral role in Chicago’s history. He planned to collect stories of Chicago’s still-living African Americans (including himself) who experienced the first Great Migration to Chicago (1915-1929), the Great Depression and World War II period (1929-1940s), and the post-war 1950s and1960s. His own life had acquainted him with hundreds of these persons, but their advancing age warned him their stories would soon be lost. Black’s colleagues recognized his uniquely wide connection to the Bronzeville community’s many constituencies, with their great variety of occupation, socio-economic level, ideology and gender. Black’s rigorous history training gave him the necessary contextual information to vigorously participate in the interviews. At the same time, widespread demolition of Bronzeville’s physical landscape, critical to the community’s history, accelerated. All these factors spurred Black to embark on the project soon after he formally retired from full-time teaching at Chicago City Colleges in 1989. He approached his many contacts in the philanthropic field, including the Centers for New Horizons, to obtain grants to fund the project. His appointment to a chair at DePaul University’s Monsignor John J. Egan Urban Center in 1990 provided additional resources needed to conduct, edit and transcribe the interviews
The work, originally conceived as the Black Metropolis Oral History Project, was to produce three outcomes: the oral histories published in three volumes representing three periods in Chicago’s African American history; community outreach with curricula and programming to encourage others to carry out documentation; and Black’s autobiography. Two volumes of interviews, Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s First Wave of Black Migration (2003) and Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s Second Generation of Black Migration (2005) have thus far been published by Northwestern University Press.
The Bridges of Memory oral history project sub-series includes 71 transcripts of the interview tapes, with Black’s notes, editing and added text. Transcripts are arranged alphabetically by interview subject, with interview dates and dates of transcription and revision noted on the transcripts. Supplementary administrative materials that follow include correspondence with Northwestern University Press, publicity and book tour information. Researchers should see also Series 4 (Audiovisual) for audiotapes of all but 12 of these interviews.
These contain materials donated by DePaul University’s Monsignor John J. Egan Urban Center. These records contain both essays Timuel Black wrote and transcripts of interviews he conducted about past and present educators at Wendell Phillips and DuSable high schools in Chicago. The interviews took place between 1991 and 1996.
The Series 2 manuscripts sub-series comprises works by Black’s academic and activist colleagues. Dating from 1957 to 2005, these works cover topics relating to Black’s many fields of endeavor (civil rights, educational reform, labor organizing, African American history and culture, among others). These materials are arranged in the third sub-series, alphabetically by author. The nearly 80 works include articles, dissertations, books, reports, speeches, essays and biographical sketches, in draft, edited or finished form. Notable authors include Lerone Bennett, Jr., Robert J. Blakely, Michael Dawson, Robert B. McKersie, Dominic A. Pacyga, Mary E. Pattillo, Christopher R. Reed, Laurel Stradford and William Julius Wilson.
Box 33 has been withdrawn.
Series 3: Correspondence, 1921-2009
Correspondence is divided into two sub-series: personal correspondence and family correspondence. Letters are arranged in alphabetical order. The correspondence series contains letters exchanged with civil rights leaders, political activists and educators. Notable among the correspondents are Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Harold Washington, Lu Palmer, Gus Savage, Sidney Yates, Abner Mikva, Mary Herrick, Robert McKersie, Claude Holman, Leon Despres, St. Clair Drake, Adam Clayton Powell, Lawrence Kennon and Ishmael Flory. Family correspondence contains letters between Timuel and Walter Black and other family members from mid-1943 to 1946. Family correspondence is arranged chronologically.
Series 4: Audiovisual, 1956-2007
The Audiovisual (AV) Series is divided into three sub-series:
- Recordings made by Timuel Black. These are all in audiocassette tape format. By content they are grouped into four categories:
- Boxes 44-49, Audiotapes from the Bridges of Memory oral history project, contains interviews Black conducted for his books Bridges of Memory, vols. 1 and 2. Tapes are arranged by volume, reflecting the published books, but alphabetically within volume although the book interviews are not printed alphabetically. However, the researcher is advised to consult Series 2 (Manuscripts) for Bridges of Memory transcripts relating to the audiotapes when possible, rather than listening to the relatively fragile tapes.
- Boxes 50-52, Audiotapes of funeral services attended and recorded by Black [1993-2001]. Tapes are arranged alphabetically by name of decedent. Transcripts are found in Boxes 8 and 9.
- Boxes 53-56, Oral history recordings of interviews, conference proceedings, other talks, lectures and benefits, and also various overseas trips Black took [1991-2002]. Tapes are arranged by category, then chronologically within categories. Researchers will find additional materials for conferences and other events by examining the particular group’s folder in Series 5 (Organizational Files).
- Boxes 56-60, Duke Ellington jazz conferences, featuring live concerts, lectures and interviews, ca. 1990-2000. Tapes are arranged chronologically.
- Boxes 61-62, Recordings that feature Timuel Black (1989-2010). Most of these items were produced by radio, television or professional production groups, and include audiocassettes, compact discs, videos and DVDs of Timuel Black being interviewed. Some interviews are included in film documentaries. This sub-series is arranged by format, then alphabetically by title.
- Boxes 63-64, Recordings in which Timuel Black is not featured (1950-2004) include audiocassettes and videocassettes, compact discs, DVDs, and also reel-to-reel, 16 mm film and LP recordings. These were produced commercially, non-commercially and by unknown parties. Many LP recordings feature iconic jazz artists. This sub-series is arranged by format, then alphabetically by title.
Series 5: Organizational Files, 1930-2009
More than 1,400 organizations, associations, coalitions, foundations, ad hoc political committees, unions, charities, churches and other groups with which Timuel Black worked, or to which he donated money, are represented in this series. Timuel Black’s involvement with each particular group varied, including roles as: founder or charter member; participant in group action; member; advisor; financial supporter and program presenter by invitation.
The bulk of this series’ material dates from the1960s through the 1990s. In the huge array of organizations, the researcher may identify some 250 key groups devoted to the issues closest to Timuel Black. Those issues include civil rights, equality of opportunity, union organizing, political power through the ballot box, educational reform, teaching of African American history in social studies curricula, and promotion of jazz and other African American cultural forms. However, hundreds of other groups in which Black was less active, but supported financially, can be found in his papers.
Materials provided in this series include meeting minutes and agendas; correspondence and memos; budgets and financial records, including fundraising; conference or workshop programs; press releases and publicity; newsletters; news clippings; reports; flyers and pamphlets. Selected files may also contain grant proposals; scholarly papers; community development plans; election results and nominating petitions; testimony and court documents.
The geographical scope of Black’s associations ranges from local grassroots (e.g., Chicago political committees), to national organizations with a functioning hierarchy (such as the ACLU), to those international in scope (anti-apartheid work in South Africa and support of African Americans of German descent). Black maintained some of his memberships (such as the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights) over five or six decades as a significant part of his lifelong work. On the other hand, Black often participated in a series of organizations over time in pursuit of a certain goal, such as voter registration or public school educational reform. Throughout this series, one can see the pervasive interaction between Timuel Black’s position as academic professional and his role in the many organizations he belonged to concurrently.
Of special note are the records of the Negro American Labor Council, Chicago Chapter. These records include correspondence, minutes, flyers and other materials documenting the civil rights work of the organization. One folder, containing four chapters from an early draft of an unpublished book by Robert McKersie on NALC’s Chicago Chapter, is not yet open to research. It is restricted until publication of the book.
Series 6: Funeral Programs, 1881-2010
Funeral programs are arranged in alphabetical order. These are printed copies of funeral programs, but audiocassettes of funerals that Timuel Black attended and taped can be found in Series 4 (Audiovisual). A large percentage of these programs reflect Timuel’s lifelong friendship with the members of the first and second wave of black migrants to Chicago. They also provide a rich history of early black Chicago activists, politicians and educators.
Series 7: Event Programs, 1959-2009
The Event Programs Series has been arranged by date and then alphabetically. One-time events and programs that do not appear to be a part of an organization can be found in this series. The majority of the materials date from 1990 to 2009 and include a number of special events for particular individuals.
Series 8: Subject Research Files, 1918-2009
This series begins with the extraordinary FBI file on A.A. “Sammy” Rayner, a legendary funeral home director and radical activist who was a close friend of Timuel Black. Black and Rayner were two of the seven independent black candidates who challenged incumbent African American aldermen aligned with Mayor Richard J. Daley. While Black lost the election, Rayner was elected alderman of the 6th Ward. After Rayner’s death, his family gave his FBI files to Timuel Black. Materials in this series date primarily from the 1960s through the 1990s. They have been arranged into two types. First, information collected by Timuel Black but not identified as connected to a specific employment or organizational activity (e.g., “Africa,” “Health Care,” “Redistricting (legislative)” has been arranged into a number of topics. These files contain clippings, articles, brochures, guides, workshop programs, population data, planning documents and reports. The topics covered also include significant persons, such as A.A. “Sammy” Rayner, Carol Moseley Braun and Harold Washington. Second, subject research categories were created to identify records of Timuel Black’s (usually unpaid) work with various governmental units, such as the Chicago Board of Education, various Illinois agencies or Chicago State University. The latter are similar to Series 5 (Organizational Files) and contain correspondence and memos, reports and financial information, mailings and brochures.
This series is arranged by alphabetically by subject and chronologically within subject. Researchers should also check Series 1 (Biography and Family Records) and Series 5 (Organizational Files) for closely related materials. Also, the researcher should be aware that overlap exists between the Harold Washington materials and the voter redistricting litigation, in addition to the many ad hoc groups that participated in the Washington election campaigns.
Series 9: Serials, 1947-2010
More than 265 serial titles are found in the Timuel Black papers. The bulk of the material dates from 1980 through the 2000s. The items are arranged alphabetically by title, then chronologically. However, Timuel Black’s collection of Labor History, 1986-1996, is found at the end of the series. Also, the researcher should note that Timuel Black contributed a regular column to a local Hyde Park newspaper, the Lakefront Outlook, from 2000 to 2010.
These publications range from national magazines, such as Ebony and Fortune, to large regional and city newspapers, to local neighborhood papers. A number of organizational newsletters and house organs from unions, churches, professional associations, civil rights advocacy groups, jazz associations, philanthropic institutions, block clubs and other organizations are included. Particular articles or themes in these selected issues usually may be identified as key interests of Timuel Black. The series reflects Timuel Black’s numerous activities, including civil rights advocacy; African American arts, music and culture; community organization and neighborhood renewal; public health; city governance; educational reform; criminal youth justice and union organizing. Publications from overseas, primarily South Africa, speak to issues related to apartheid, against which Black worked tirelessly from the 1960s to its abolition.
Series 10: Clippings, 1954-2010
This series contains newspaper clippings collected by Timuel Black and reflects his varied interests. Clippings are arranged alphabetically by subject.
Series 11: Photographs
There are more than 1,500 photographs in this collection. They offer users visual documentation of Timuel Black’s movement activism and personal friendships. Photographs were accessioned in small batches over several years and had no arrangement on arrival. Some have now been grouped according to events. Identification and date have been included where possible.
Series 12: Awards and Plaques
The Awards and Plaques Series is divided into two categories and then arranged alphabetically. Materials span the years from Timuel Black’s plaque from Teachers for Integrated Schools in 1963 to the Saul Mendelson Social Justice award in 2008 from the Independent Voters of Illinois.
Series 13: Memorabilia
The bulk of memorabilia represents award items similar to plaques presented to Timuel Black to recognize his achievements. A smaller number of items are mementos of significant milestones or anniversaries. Of special interest are several guest books listing attendees to awards events or funerals. This series also contains banners, medals, pocket calendars (1963-1992), note cards, membership cards posters, political campaign buttons and other paraphernalia, acrylic awards, guest books, postcards and other ephemera. This series is arranged by format.
Super Series 2: Children of Timuel D. Black
Ermetra A. Black and Timuel Kerrigan Black
The papers of Timuel D. Black include materials he acquired from his two children, Ermetra Adair Black and Timuel Kerrigan “Kerrigan” Black. Their papers form Super Series 2 and are divided into the papers of Ermetra A. Black and the papers of Timuel Kerrigan Black. Some of those materials were received by Timuel D. Black in correspondence from Ermetra or Kerrigan or from a third party. Most of the Timuel Kerrigan Black correspondence and other papers were assembled after his 1993 death by his life partner, Larry Cross, and then transferred to Timuel Black.
Papers of Ermetra A. Black, 1964-2009
The papers of Ermetra A. Black include her resumes (1970s), her miscellaneous manuscripts (1973-2009) and her correspondence. The correspondence with her father is foldered separately from correspondence her father conducted with the institutions of higher education Ermetra attended: Bennington College (1964-1968) and Northwestern University (1968-1973), where she received her master’s degree. Ermetra A. Black’s papers also include programs from her Northwestern University commencement and her 1978 wedding to Timothy Keith Murrell. The materials are arranged by topic and chronologically within folders.
Papers of Timuel Kerrigan Black (aka Kerrigan Black), 1953-1993
Material in Kerrigan Black’s papers has been arranged into five series: Biography, Employment and Family Records; Correspondence; Audiovisual; Memorabilia and Photographs. The papers of Kerrigan Black include both those materials (correspondence, elementary school records) held by his father and also records in Kerrigan’s possession when he died. The papers include materials from boarding school, college and graduate school. They also derive from his extensive professional career as a creative musician, composer, performer, artist and writer in the San Francisco Bay area. These materials also reflect his personal life as a self-identified gay man who worked for LBG civil rights and who shared over 10 years with his life partner, Larry Cross, before dying of AIDS in 1993. As stated, records in Kerrigan Black’s possession at the time of his death were assembled by his partner, Larry Cross, and transferred to Kerrigan’s father, Timuel D. Black.
Series 1: Biography, 1953-1993
In addition to detailed resumes, personal documents and family history, the first box of this series contains material from several memorial services and programs, and several scrapbooks, that were produced after Kerrigan’s death in 1993. Also of note are the materials documenting the Timuel Kerrigan Black Scholarship established by his father for qualifying students who attend Kerrigan’s grammar school, the Charles Kozminski Academy in Chicago. This box is arranged alphabetically by topic and chronologically within folders.
Biography – Education, 1960s-1979
The bulk of these materials relate to Kerrigan Black’s years at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., (1967-1971); at Stanford University in California (1971-1975), where he studied creative writing and attended semester abroad in France, and at the University of California at Berkeley (1975-1979) as he pursued his master’s degree in ethnomusicology. Records of his years at Phillips Academy include coursework, a scrapbook and yearbook, and his cum laude diploma. Kerrigan Black’s Stanford University materials include his original works written and composed then, and his 1975 diploma. Material from his years at UC Berkeley includes extensive writing in the field of ethnomusicology as well as his master’s thesis on the meaning of African American blues and spirituals (1979). Almost all of these education-derived materials document Kerrigan Black’s prodigious musical and literary gifts as well as his strong interest in interpreting the history of African American musical culture. Materials are arranged chronologically by educational institution and chronologically within folders.
Biography – Employment, 1970s-1993
Most of the documentation of Kerrigan Black’s work history derives from his pursuit of performance venues in his California region; his efforts to interpret African American music and culture for youth in schools and other venues; and the creation of printed material to publicize and perform his original musical works, most of which were produced by the production company he formed with Larry Cross, Heebie Jeebie Music. Also found in this series are his essays, news clippings of local news columns he authored and local performances he held. Records of his “day jobs” are not extensive. However, his diaries [1971-1989] cover many years and explore a number of issues. Materials are arranged alphabetically by topic and chronologically within folders, with diaries at the end of the series.
Series 2: Correspondence, 1967-1993
(1993-2006 from Larry Cross)
Arranged chronologically, these items include Kerrigan’s exchanges with family, friends and other performers. A serious correspondent even during high school, Kerrigan Black discussed his life issues with his father and sister, including his encounters with racism, his choice of career and his decision in the mid-1970s to declare his gay identity. The researcher should note the folder of correspondence between Larry Cross and Timuel D. Black, created after Kerrigan Black’s death in 1993.
Series 3: Audiovisual, 1975-1976, 1991-2000 (posthumous publishing)
This series includes three original Kerrigan Black performance works produced on audiocassette, two video recordings of Kerrigan Black performance works, plus “rough footage” of other work. LPs include Kerrigan Black’s performance with the Stanford University “Mendicants” group (1975). Materials are arranged by format, then alphabetically by title.
Series 4: Memorabilia, 1974-1995
Items found here are a calendar and a scroll poster created by Kerrigan Black, and two T-shirts marked with his photo and his titled work, “Ya Gotta Know Somethin’ ’bout History! So That the World Isn’t Just a Mystery!”
Series 5: Photographs, 1950s-1990s
More than 240 color and b/w photographs include those of Kerrigan and his family (1950s-1970s) and Kerrigan with his grammar school classes (1960s). Also found are performance and publicity proofs and blow-ups (some taken by Cross), color snapshots of home life with Cross and friends, and travel photos including Mexico and Colorado. A number of photographs were taken with family shortly before he died. Also in this series are dozens of black-and-white photos taken by Kerrigan Black himself, apparently as part of various art projects.
Super Series 1:
Timuel D. Black, Jr.
Inclusive Dates: 1918-2010