A great part of our history rests as we remember Timuel Black, who passed away Oct. 13, 2021. As we shine light on Black’s memorable attributes for all the lives he touched, we spark a conversation with former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun who relied on Black for guidance for much of her political career. A public memorial service for Black is scheduled for Dec. 5 at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the University of Chicago campus.
Recently, ChicagoTalks editor Vinessa Gabrielle Russell sat down with Moseley Braun to discuss the impact Black had on Chicago.
What role do you believe he played in you running for office, both for senate and the presidency?
When I first thought I’d run for state legislature, one of the pundits said ‘Don’t run. You can’t possibly win, the Blacks won’t vote for you because you’re not part of the Chicago machine; the whites won’t vote for you because you’re Black and nobody’s gonna vote for you because you’re a woman.’
At that moment I decided, ‘Oh yeah I’m signing up for whatever this job is.’
What about Tim Black makes our history, being Black history, so important?
I think because Tim was a living witness to so much of it and while clearly his interpretation will influence a lot what is said about not just him but about black history in Chicago … he did live through it. He knew stuff that people don’t know or don’t recognize these days. and that was a really positive and good thing.
What have you learned from knowing Tim Black?
The thing that I learned from Tim is actually not political at all. If you ever watched him, he would, when he’s walking, he would pick his feet up … you just see him picking up his feet. So I’ve had a tendency of dragging my feet, and whenever I drag my feet I think, Tim, pick ’em up.
The life lesson is – pick your feet up.
Do you have a favorite quote from Tim Black?
I do. Both our families are from Alabama, he said when he was born he took a look around and told his mother, ‘We gotta get the hell out of here.’
As we continued our conversation, Braun said Black’s greatest contribution was making it a point to reach out to young people. How he wanted to be apart of their generation and inspire them to be curious, to look around and pay attention to the rest of the world. Black had such an appreciation for intellectual curiosity, and that’s what made him so special.
This article was edited for clarity.