A new scholarship has been created in honor of prominent Chicago historian Dr. Timuel Black, who recently died. 

City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) is raising money for the new scholarship, which is designed for students who are interested in bringing positive changes to their community.  

The scholarship is named after Black, an African-American educator, historian and activist who, among other things, worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to campaign against housing discrimination on the West Side. 

Black, who served in various leadership positions throughout the City Colleges system, died on Oct. 1. The CCC system established a scholarship to honor him and support students who are trying to address the issues “central to Dr. Black’s Life and Work,” according to CCC officials. 

Each student will get $5,000 a year to help cover tuition and other costs. Scholars will also be able to take part in leadership development activities and potentially get funding for their own community improvement projects. 

The City Colleges plan to release the first round of applications in the fall of 2022, with the goal of selecting the first cohort of scholars by the summer of 2023. 

Black was born in Birmingham, Ala. in 1918, but he grew up in Chicago. He served in the military during World War II, helping liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp. After the war, he returned to Chicago to attend Roosevelt University, later receiving a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1954. 

Black first became an activist in the 1930s, when he helped organize the “Don’t Spend Your Money Where You Can’t Work” campaign. He was instrumental in organizing the first speech King ever gave in Chicago. Along with his work in North Lawndale, Black helped organize the “freedom trains” that took thousands of Chicagoans to the 1963 March on Washington. 

Black ran for alderman and state representative several times, coining the phrase “plantation politics” in the process. While he never won, he was credited with persuading U.S. Rep. Harold Washington to run for mayor of Chicago. He also served as a mentor to Carol Mosely Brown, the first African-American U.S. Senator. 

City Colleges chancellor Juan Salgado said the Timuel D. Black Scholarship is a way to “honor his contributions to our institutions” and to ensure that “his life and legacy is present within our institutions in a very deep and meaningful way in perpetuity.”

The scholarship will be geared toward older “adult learners” with a history of “current and/or past civic and community engagement” who want to “drive change in their communities.” 

Salgado said that many current students already fit those requirements. The scholars will get $5,000 a year to cover tuition, books and fees. He added that can use the money at any City College, including Malcolm X College. While the scholarship only lasts a year, students will be able to reapply each year. 

To find out more about the scholarship, and to make a donation, visit www.ccc.edu/tbs.

Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...