Robert Starks

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Robert Starks

Robert Terry Starks is Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Development, Northeastern University, Illinois.

Activist life

Starks was born on January 24, 1944 in Grenada, Mississippi. He earned his B.S. degree from Chicago’s Loyola University in 1968. He earned his M.A. degree in political science also from Loyola in 1971. In 1968, Starks served as a management consultant for Booze Allen Hamilton and a research specialist for the Chicago Urban League. From 1970 to 1972, Starks served as Director of Black Studies at Northern Illinois University and associate professor of political science. He joined the faculty of Northeastern Illinois University’s Center for Inner City Studies (NEIU CICS) in 1976 where he is associate professor of political science.

Starks served as an issues advisor to Reverend Jesse Jackson and political advisor to the late Chicago mayor, Harold Washington. He was the founding chair of the Task Force for Black Political Empowerment and has been the local chair of the Free South Africa Movement. In 2001, Starks founded the Harold Washington Institute for Research and Policy Studies at NEIU CICS. Since 1991, Starks has contributed a weekly column to N’Digo news magazine and hosted a show on WVON Radio in the early 1990s. He also was a contributing editor to Urban Affairs Quarterly.

Starks has appeared on WVON Radio’s On Target and on ABC-TV’s Nightline, the Today Show, C-SPAN, CNN News and CNN’s Crossfire television programs. His article “Harold Washington and the Politics of Reform” appeared in Racial Politics in American Cities by Rufus Browning. Starks is chairperson of the board of the Illinois Black United Fund and a member of innumerable civic committees. The recipient of a treasure of community award, he lives in the Woodlawn community with his wife, Judith Starks and his children, Kenya and Robert. Starks has also authored a book on the political life of Harold Washington.[1]


M.A., Loyola University (Chicago)

Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago

Circa late 1982, members of the Citizens Committee/Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago (in formation) included Robert Starks.[2]

Forward Motion conference

Forward Motion, Oct/Nov 1986

In the summer of 1986 Forward Motion sponsored a forum in Chicago on electoral politics. Forward Motion Chicago correspondent Peggy Baker moderated. Panelists were Luis Gutierrez, Robert Starks and Richard Saks.

Luis Gutierrez was a newly elected Alderman from Chicago's overwhelmingly Puerto Rican 26th District. After participating in radical student politics at Northeast Illinois University, Gutierrez became involved in community housing activism in the Humboldt Park-Westown area.

Robert Starks was a Professor of Political Science at Northeast Illinois University. He was Chicago Chair of the Free South Africa Movement, and co-chaired the Taskforce for Black Political Empowerment, which convinced Harold Washington to run for mayor of Chicago in 1983, after conducting large voter registration drives.

Richard Saks was a member of the Common Ground Network. He managed Bill Borks unsuccessful run for State Representative, and in 1986 played an important role in Miguel del Valle's successful primary for State Senate.

Washington supporter

Along with Conrad Worrill, Starks was major organizer in Harold Washington campaigns in 1983 and 1987[3].


In 1987 Robert Starks was a Member of the Executive Committee of Chicago based Comprand (Comprehensive Research and Development)[4].

Black Press Institute

In 1987 Robert Starks, Center for Inner City Studies - NIU, was on the Board of Directors of the Black Press Institute[5].

Chicago DSA meeting

Chicago Socialist Jan. 1988, page 1

Links to Democratic Socialists of America

In 1988, Robert Starks 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.[6]

Tribute to Golub and Montgomery

On November 16, 1989, Robert Starks served on the Tribute Committee for the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Tribute to Leon Golub and Lucy Montgomery, held at the Congress Hotel, Chicago.[7]

Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa

In 1989 the Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa, Board of Directors consisted of;

Timuel Black, Basil Clunie (co-chair), Earl Durham, Tommie Fry, Judy Hatcher, Tena Johnson, Toni Moore, Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Alice Palmer, Orlando Redekopp, Rachel Rubin (co-chair), Robert Starks, Lucille Teichert, Kevin Thompson, Tim Wright[8].

Ishmael Flory tribute

Illinois Communist Party USA leader Ishmael Flory was honored at Malcolm X College in Chicago, September 29, 1991, by more than 100 guests.

Margaret Burroughs, a board member of the Chicago Park District MCed the event.

"Ishmael Flory is a man for all seasons...He never gives up", said State Senator Alice Palmer.

Alderman Jesus Garcia of Chicago's 22nd ward cited Flory's role in fostering African-American and Latino unity , and in building multi-racial coalitions for social progress.

Prof. Robert Starks of the Free South Africa Movement said "Ishmael has never failed to compliment me on my speeches, but at the same time he has never failed to pull me aside afterwards, too point out how I could have been a little more "progressive."

Tributes came from Communist Party USA chairman Gus Hall and Illinois organizational secretary Mark Almberg.

Other speakers included Crystal Bujol for the Flory family, long time friend Christine Johnson, Jack Spiegel of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, Ronelle Mustin, peace activist Sarah Staggs, Harold Rogers, who brought greetings from Rep. Charles Hayes, Gerry Oliver, and Carl Bloice of the Peoples Weekly World.[9]

Task Force for Political Empowerment

In the mid 1990s Robert Starks headed Task Force for Political Empowerment[10].

Paul Robeson 100th Birthday Committee

In 1998 Robert Starks was listed as a volunteer and intern of Paul Robeson 100th Birthday Committee.[11]

Richard Criley Memorial

In 2000, Robert Starks served on the welcoming committee for the Chicago Memorial Service for Richard Criley, a long-time activist with the Communist Party USA and a leader of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights.[12]

Chicago Area Friends of SNCC

In 2005 Chicago Area Friends of SNCC organized the "Tell the Story: The Chicago SNCC History Project, 1960-1965" Chicago Area Friends of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Chicago Civil Rights Movement, c. 1960-1965. The event was held October 21-22, 2005 Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois.

Members of the advisory committee included Robert Starks.[13]

CCDBR board

The Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights board as of 2009 was[14];

President: Robert H. Clarke

Vice Presidents: Brenetta Howell Barrett, Mike Giocondo; Treasurer: Don Goldhamer;

Secretary: Anna Nessy Perlberg;

Directors: Timuel Black, Mabel Brail, Luster Jackson, Carol Heise, Milton Herst, Bennett Johnson, Lillian Margolis, William Martin, Nancy Mikelsons, Lewis Myers Jr., Odie Payne III, Ruth Tregay Siegel, Robert Starks, Oscar Worrill


  1. [1]
  2. Undated circa late 1982, HWAC Mayoral Campaign Records, Box 5, Folder 1
  4. Comprand Letterhead Sep 29 1987
  5. Black Press Institute Letterhead October 5 1987
  6. PROCAN meeting notification letter April 27 1988
  7. Tribute to Golub and Montgomery: Program, Nov. 16, 1989
  9. PWW, Chicago tribute hails work of Ishmael FloryOctober 12, 1991, page 8
  12. Memoriam Service Program, 2000