Timuel Black

Timuel Black is a Chicago cultural historian, a former teacher in the South Side's public high schools and the city's colleges, a political activist, an occasional campaigner for municipal and state  offices, and the pre-eminent citizen of Bronzeville, the neighborhood where jazz may not have been born but where it certainly grew up. At age 81 he completed Bridges of Memory: Chicago's First Wave of Great Migration, his first volume of a trilogy chronicling his city's demographic evolution since the 1920s, which of course coincides with the development of jazz upon the arrival of Jelly Roll Morton and King Joe Oliver in the capital of the northern midwest. Now 90 years old, Black has succeeded the eminent Studs Terkel -- his friend (as portrayed in the above photo by Lauren Deutsch) -- as an interviewer who listens with empathy and respectful regard for everyone with whom he sits. It goes without saying that Timuel Black has been a lifelong lover of jazz.

It has been written that "Black has spent his life furthering the cause of social justice." But as one of the nominators of Tim Black to the JJA's "A Team" wrote: "More than an aficionado, Tim's been an  advocate, historian, contextualizer, supporter, and education  extrapolator, which is to say he's used his public visibility to recommend the music as portal, a potentially exciting gateway that can lead youngsters to relating to other academic disciplines as interested participants rather than as the be-drudged socially oppressed." Which is further to say that Timuel Black has been an advocate of hope, a man urging positive change, from a balanced, adaptable, optimistic yet pragmatic perspective akin to that which has been the basis of jazz from its beginnings. The JJA is proud that he has agreed to join the "A Team," and to accept his Jazz Award onstage at the Chicago Jazz Festival in late August. -- Howard Mandel

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