Civil rights leader, historian Timuel Black celebrates 102nd birthday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Historian and civil rights activist Timuel Black has witnessed and participated in some of the world's most pivotal moments.

Monday marked his 102nd birthday and was cause for him to be treated like the living legend he is.

"He has been telling our story but he's a part of our story. He's actually a part of history," said Joe Harrington.

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Chicago historian and civil rights icon Timuel Black is calling on neighborhood institutions, like churches, to take the lead in the fight against COVID-19.

Harrington has been friends With Black for years, calling him an icon who fought in World War II, championed civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, recruited Harold Washington to run for mayor and mentored a young Barack Obama.

"If it wasn't for COVID, we would have done something bigger than this," Harrington said.

Harrington helped organize a caravan of supporters who drove through Black's Bronzeville neighborhood to wave hello and shouting birthday greetings.

"Thank you so much," Black said.

Reverend Jesse Jackson paid a special visit to Black, as did many people who were students of Black's during his decades as an educator.

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"I feel so honored having known him all these years," said Laurel Stradford.

While Black said he appreciates being honored, he is inspired by young people and has challenged them to be more involved in their communities.

"You will find that you feel so much better because you've made a difference in more lives than yours," Black said.

Black will be honored by the education foundation that bears his name during a ceremony in February to kick off Black History Month.
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