Remembering Timuel Black

Barack Obama
1 min readOct 13, 2021

Today, the city of Chicago and the world lost an icon with the passing of Timuel Black.

Tim spent decades chronicling and lifting up Black Chicago history. But he also made plenty of history himself.

After moving to Chicago with his family as part of the Great Migration, Tim served in the military during World War II — surviving the Normandy invasion, and fighting across France and in the Battle of the Bulge.

Tim visited Buchenwald shortly after it was liberated, witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust. That experience, along with the racial discrimination he faced in the Army, deepened his resolve to fight for social justice. And after returning home to Chicago, he became a fierce advocate for change through education and mutual understanding.

Over his 102 years, Tim was many things: a veteran, historian, author, educator, civil rights leader, and humanitarian. But above all, Tim was a testament to the power of place, and how the work we do to improve one community can end up reverberating through other neighborhoods and other cities, eventually changing the world.

Today, Michelle and I send our thoughts to Tim’s wife Zenobia, and everyone who loved and admired this truly incredible man.