Dr. Conrad W. Worrill, educator, scholar, political activist, mentor, and an intellectual giant who help educate the lives of students and the community passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 78. Worrill was a fixture in the African American community in Chicago who fought for justice, reparations for slavery, and police brutality.
Worrill worked 40 years at Northeastern Illinois University as a Professor in Inner City Studies, Department Chair of Inner City Studies, Academic Program Coordinator for Inner City Studies, and the Director of the historic Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies/CCICS. He retired in December 2016.
Kim L. Dulaney, assistant professor of African American Studies at Chicago State University and Director of Education and Programs at DuSable Museum, pays tribute to her mentor and friend. “Baba Conrad was a brilliant and skilled organizer. He knew and greatly reminded me of my dad. His memory was extremely sharp. Talking to him was like Google-ing something. His unique ability to locate the intersections of personalities, ideas, aims, and histories was unparalleled and was surely the gift that he was sent here to bless us with. To know him was to love him. He will be sorely missed and forever treasured.”
Sherry Williams, Founder, and President of the Bronzeville Historical Society, who worked and was a student of Worrill, reflects on her mentor. “Dr. Worrill became my boss when I worked in his office as a student at Northeastern Illinois University Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies 2015-16. Every day he would stop and greet me and say, “Hello, Ms. Sherry.” He was a walking, talking history lesson. In my last conversation with him, I congratulated him on the success of the new track and field stadium. I told him I would spearhead, putting his name on the stadium. He smiled and said, “I believe you,” says Williams.
Worrill worked tirelessly for a track and field facility on the South Side of Chicago with the late Mayor Harold Washington since 1983. The Gately Indoor Track & Field will be a 139,000 square foot facility that will feature the area’s first hydraulically banked 200-meter track, and an 8-lane track with full track and field event capabilities including long jump, high jump, a dedicated throwing cage, eight sprint lanes, and a warm-up area. There will be a seating capacity of 3,500 with supporting amenities such as a meet management control room, concessions, multipurpose rooms, and locker rooms. Upon completion, the Gately Indoor Track and Field will allow runners to train year-round, increasing scholarship opportunities for young athletes. Worrill was a track star at Hyde Park Academy High School in Chicago.
Worrill was the founding member of the National Black United Front, a key organizer for Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign, a lifetime member for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America/N’COBRA and former radio talk show host of “On Target” on Chicago’s WVON 1690AM Radio.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Contributing Writer, Tammy Gibson is a Travel Historian and writer. You can find her @SankofaTravelher.