Lu Palmer

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Lutrelle (Lu) F Palmer was an award-winning print and broadcast journalist and political pundit who was often referred to as "the godfather of Chicago's Black politics," He died in 2004,age 82[1].

He was survived by his wife and fellow activist Jorja Palmer.

Early life

Born on March 28, 1922, in Newport News, Va., Palmer received a journalism degree from Virginia Union University in 1942 and a master's degree from Syracuse University. He arrived in Chicago in 1950 with a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He joined the Chicago Defender as a reporter and was known as "the panther with a pen."

National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation

Lu Palmer Editor of Black X-Press was named as a sponsor of the Communist Party USA dominated National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation held at Dunbar Vocational High School, Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, October 19 to 21 1973.[2]


As a community activist, Palmer founded the Chicago Black United Communities in 1979 and the Black Independent Political Organization in 1981[3].

"Lu was a huge figure in Chicago and Black journalism," according his friend and political ally, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.,. of similar stature to Vernon Jarrett.

"His reputation extended far beyond the people he wrote for on his commentaries. When Lu Palmer wrote, people read intensely. When he did commentaries, they listened intently. He was a classic journalist with a mission, not just a journalist with a job. He and Vernon Jarrett brought the journalism downtown where it was needed, and both ultimately lost their jobs because they had non-negotiable principles. But they were exalted in the process. They saw themselves as freedom fighters. Journalism was simply their skill and the pen was their weapon.

According to Jackson, Palmer also believed the U.S. government was persecuting Black Panther Party leaders like Fred Hampton, Mark Clark and Bobby Rush[4].

"Lu Palmer believed that the government killed Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and that they sought to kill Bobby Rush," Jackson continued. "Lu was proven to be right. His community paper, theBlack X-Press Info-Paper, was dedicated to an alternative point of view. He was a driving force with his popular radio commentary, in the climate that elected Harold Washington mayor…Lu's independence as a journalist and integrity as a warrior are unmatched. And he will sorely be missed. Lu was a part of the essence of the soul of Chicago and our liberation struggle."

Committee in Support of Southern Africa

Committee in Support of Southern Africa was an anti-Apartheid group active in Chicago in the early 1980s.

Members of the committee iincluded[5];

Charles Hayes, Rep. Carol Moseley Braun, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Bob Simpson, Frank Rosen, Congressman Harold Washington, Harold Rogers, Rep. Monica Stewart, Jim Wright, Alderman Danny Davis, Alice Peurala, Lu Palmer, Milt Cohen, Timuel Black.

Supporting Harold Washington

Palmer was and outspoken supporter of Harold Washington, a close personal friend. Palmer was instrumental in Washington becoming Chicago's first African American mayor[6].

New Mayor and New Politics

On May 17 1983 Lu Palmer was a Panelist on A New Mayor and New Politics forum at Chicago State University Auditorium.

The election of Harold Washington as Mayor of Chicago was more than one man's victory. It was a progressive people's declaration. The Black community and progressive Latinos and whites formed an unbetable force in a campaign for justice and equality.

Panelist were Paul Booth, Juanita Bratcher, David Cantor, Slim Coleman, Danny Davis, Keith Davis, Ron Davis, Ishmael Flory, Rev Harry Gibson, Nancy Jefferson, Richard Newhouse, Lu Palmer, Art Vasquez, Conrad Worrill sponsored by Black Press Institute and Independent Citizens Alliance[7].


From 1983 until his retirement in 2001, Palmer hosted an issues-oriented talk show, Lu's Notebook on WVON Radio. He also was host of "On Target."

In 1983, Illinois Bell canceled its sponsorship of Palmer's 12-year-old radio show when he became an outspoken supporter of Washington. Palmer wrote for the Chicago Courier and the Chicago Daily News, where he also served as a syndicated columnist and editor for the Chicago Defender’s sister publication, the Tri-State Defender. He later published the Black X-Press Info-Paper in Chicago[8].

Links to Democratic Socialists of America

In 1988, Lu Palmer served on the Board of Directors of PROCAN (Progressive Chicago Area Network), an oganization which included several prominent Democratic Socialists of America members, including Alderman Danny K Davis, Roberta Lynch and Dr Ron Sable.[9]