CHICAGO (CBS) — Two weeks after his death, aldermen paid tribute to late educator and civil rights leader Dr. Conrad Worrill, and suggested naming all or part of Gately Park after him. Worrill, a track and field enthusiast, was instrumental in the creation of a new indoor track facility at the park.
Worrill was honored at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, as several black aldermen shared memories of the civil rights leader who died on June 3 at the age of 78.
“He was unapologetically black, he was well studied on African history, and he made sure that everybody knew it. He will truly, truly be missed,” Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) recalled how Worrill worked with him on a plan for how the city should pay reparations to descendants of enslaved African Americans. The City Council on Wednesday will consider a measure to create a subcommittee of aldermen that will study the issue and make annual reports to the Committee on Health and Human Relations and the City Council.
Sawyer has been working on the reparations issue for years, and said when Worrill saw his first version of a reparations resolution, he called it “crap,” and helped Sawyer rewrite the proposal that will be considered on Wednesday.
Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) called Worrill “bigger than life itself.”
“Conrad was never one to bite his tongue about anything, the way he felt, about you, and anybody else in the universe. He was very open and honest about everything that he did,” she said.
Harris said Worrill’s first love was education, but his second love was track and field. She said she worked with Worrill for several years on a new indoor track and field facility at Gately Park in Pullman. She said she hopes to name the facility after him.
“This became his life’s work,” Harris said.
Other aldermen suggested Gately Park itself should be renamed after Worrill.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, because of his declining health, Worrill was never able to see the completion of the indoor track at Gately Park.
“I think that’s one of our great sadness, that he passed away before he was able to see the beauty of truly this world class track and field opportunity that he was so instrumental in pushing,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said the Chicago Park District is considering an appropriate memorial of Worrill’s contributions to Gately Park.