Local civil rights activist Timuel Black receives prestigious award

January 14, 2013 3:24:48 PM PST
Civil rights activist Timuel Black can easily be described as a living legend.

He has played an integral role in trying to bring equality among the races, including helping to organize the historic March on Washington.

Black is the first recipient of the City of Chicago's Champion of Freedom award.

He says it feels good to honored in his adopted hometown. Although he was born in the Deep South, Black has called Chicago his home since he was a young boy.

He is a proud graduate of DuSable High School on the South Side. There, he is counted among the hall-of-famers.

"In this building we had people like John H. Johnson, Harold Washington who became the first black Mayor, Nat King Cole. We used to be in the same classroom," said Black.

A few years after his high school experience, Black made another famous friend- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Black was so inspired, that he left a doctorate program at the University of Chicago to dedicate himself to civil rights work.

He would become the Chicago chair of the 1963 March on Washington.

"We organized the March on Washington over there in this neighborhood. Young people here in DuSable, participating in the organizing," said Black.

Black is still involved in civil rights work and is humbled by the city's decision to honor him in memory of Dr. King.

"I'm very honored to get an opportunity to get an award in the neighborhood where I grew up, near the school in which I graduated. That is an honor," said Black.

The first African American President is set to be sworn into office for the second time on King Day, but Black says his mentor would agree there's more work to be done.

"Dr. King would probably say what he said the day before he was assassinated. I've been to the mountaintop and I looked over. I may not get there with you, but you will be getting there. So we have an obligation to fulfill the dream," said Black.

He will receive the Champion of Freedom award on Friday at the city's 27th Annual Interfaith Breakfast.