During the changing of the seasons as the sun
begins to brightly shine, we should always remember some of
our great ancestors. One such ancestor is Lu Palmer.
On 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.
As I began to think about the tremendous contributions
Brother Lu made, over the years, I found myself traveling down
memory lane. I had known 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.
Lutrelle Fleming Palmer, Jr. was born on March
28, 1922 in Newport
News, Virginia. To understand something
about Lu Palmer, you have understanding 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.
Lu 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.”
Over 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
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 g ave up on the idea.
From 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
For 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
It 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.
Like 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.”
Through 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.
If 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.”
We miss Lu, but his spirit remains with us.
Conrad W. Worrill, PhD, is the National Chairman of the National
Black United Front (NBUF). Click
here to contact Dr. Worrill.