should always remember some of our great ancestors. One such ancestor
is Lu Palmer.
Sunday, September 12, 2004, Lu Palmer made his transition to eternity.
Lu Palmer was an unquestioned leader, and dedicated soldier in the
struggle for Black Liberation and independence. His
spirit will remain among us forever.
I began to think about the tremendous contributions Brother Lu made
over the years, I found myself traveling down memory lane. I knew Lu for thirty-two
years and worked closely with him on innumerable projects. During
this period we became very good friends and I considered him as
one of my fathers in the movement.
Fleming Palmer, Jr. was born on March 28, 1922 in Newport News, Virginia. To
understand something about Lu Palmer, you have to understand the
tremendous influence his family had on him, particularly his father.
Brother Lu was named after his father who was an outstanding Black
educator and institution builder.
Palmer, Sr. graduated from Wilberforce
University in 1911 and received a second
degree from the University of Michigan in 1912. In reading
an April 1923 edition of the Alpha Phi Alpha journal, The Sphinx,
I ran across a biographical sketch of Lu’s father. In discussing
his role as an educator and Principal of the Huntington
High School in Newport
News, The Sphinx commented that “A big element in the success
that has attended Brother Palmer’s efforts is his rare faculty of
securing the united support of his community.”
the years, Brother Lu Palmer, Jr. secured that same kind of support
in Chicago and other places around the country for his dedicated work
in the Black Liberation Movement. In this regard, the old adage,
“Like father, like son” applies.
his graduation from high school, Lu attended and graduated from
Virginia Union University.
Upon completing of his B.A. degree, Lu entered Syracuse University and finished his M.A.
degree in journalism. Lu didn’t stop there. He attended the University
of Iowa in pursuit of a Ph.D. in communications.
Lu finished all of the necessary requirements for this degree except
for the writing of his dissertation. Lu
told me years ago that he had done extensive research in preparation
to write his dissertation, but unfortunately his notes were lost
on a train. After that mishap, Lu just kind of gave up on the idea.
the early 1950s, Lu worked in a variety positions as a journalist,
communicator, writer, and educator. The name Lu Palmer is synonymous
with the quest of Black people’s efforts in Chicago
and around the country in our fight for self determination and independence.
over fifty-three years Lu worked in the field of communications
as a journalist, as the Director of the News Bureau, as an editor
at Fisk University, as a reporter at the Tri-State Defender,
as senior writer at the Chicago Defender, a reporter
in the Peace Corps, a reporter at The Chicago American, and
as a columnist at the Chicago Daily News.
was the racism and white supremacy of the Chicago Daily News
that caused Lu to resign his lucrative position in 1972 and start
his own newspaper called the Black X-Press. Although the
life of this newspaper was short-lived, the idea and example that
Lu set by taking this bold step was indicative of his character
as a true freedom fighter.
his father, Lu fought for the dignity, freedom,
self determination, and independence of
Black people most of his life. Through “Lu’s Notebook,” a radio
program that aired on most Black radio stations for some ten years,
he articulated many of the key issues that impacted on the heartbeat
of the Black Community in Chicago and the United
States. You might remember it was Lu who said,
“It’s enough to make a Negro turn Black.” Also,
for many years Lu served as the host of the popular WVON night time
radio show, “On Target.”
Lu’s Notebook and forums, he was instrumental in mobilizing and
organizing Black people to take action around our own self interests.
Perhaps his greatest organizing venture was the establishment of
his organization, Chicago Black United Communities (CBUC), which
more than any other organization laid the foundation for the election
of Chicago’s first Black
Mayor, Harold Washington.
you recall, it was Lu Palmer and CBUC that convened the Citywide
Political Conference at Malcolm X College on August 15, 1981, “To
examine, to explain, to explore old and new strategies that will
enable us to chart new paths toward full political representation
and full political empowerment - in Black precincts, in Black wards,
in Black congressional districts, in Black state legislative districts,
in City Hall and throughout this country.” It was Lu Palmer that
declared at this conference, and subsequently popularized the slogan
that became a reality, “We Shall See In `83.”
miss Lu, but his spirit remains with us.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Conrad W. Worrill, PhD, is the National Chairman Emeritus
of the National Black United Front (NBUF). Click here
to contact Dr. Worrill.