Civil rights leader to discuss MLK legacy on April 4 at Rockefeller Chapel

Conversation with Timuel Black, AM’54, to occur on 50th anniversary of assassination

Timuel Black
Timuel Black, alumnus, activist and one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s former associates, will discuss King’s legacy in an April 4 event at Rockefeller Chapel.
Photo by
Robert Kozloff
University Communications

Alumnus and local activist Timuel Black will discuss the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during an April 4 event at UChicago marking the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s assassination.

The 99-year-old Black, one of King’s former associates, will be in conversation with Bart Schultz, director of the Civic Knowledge Project and senior lecturer of philosophy at UChicago, beginning at 12:30 p.m. The event will take place at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel—the site of two King addresses in 1956 and 1959—and will be preceded by a half-hour of civil rights-era music from the chapel carillon.

Black was instrumental in bringing King to campus in the 1950s along with fellow members of his First Unitarian Church in Hyde Park. Black became an ardent supporter of King, organizing the Freedom Trains that took thousands of Chicagoans to the March on Washington.

In addition to his role in the civil rights movement, Black helped get Harold Washington Jr. elected as the first African-American mayor of Chicago and led an initiative to bring the Obama Presidential Center to the South Side. He also has written volumes of oral histories interviewing African-Americans who, like him, grew up on the South Side.

A longtime teacher in Chicago Public Schools, Black twice a year leads tours detailing his own life and the history of King to younger generations. “I want to continue to encourage,” said Black in a 2014 interview, “as well as do what I can to fulfill the dream that Dr. King magnified and glorified, because that’s part of the universal dream that all of us need to have.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Civic Knowledge Project’s MLK Initiative, a months-long effort to commemorate the legacy of King.