Chicago State University


CSU Will Display Archive of Legendary Chicago Civil Rights Attorney

The Chicago State University Library's Division of Archives and Special Collections recently announced it has obtained the archival collections of Thomas N. Todd. The collection consists of the awards, certificates, audiovisual material, artifacts, and photographs gathered throughout the life and career of one of the more influential public figures in Chicago history.

"Whether you look at his work as an attorney, a civil rights champion, a political activist, an education advocate or a public speaker, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the amazing things Mr. Todd has accomplished in his life," Dr. Wayne D. Watson, President of Chicago State University said. "It is only fitting that his life's work be documented, archived and proudly displayed right here at CSU, where the next generation of students can be guided by his light and impacted by his message."

Thomas N. Todd, affectionately known as "TNT" for his rousing oratory skills, was born and educated in the South and moved to Chicago while serving in the Army. It was as a U.S. Attorney in 1968 that Todd made history by bringing first criminal case against a Chicago policeman for depriving an individual of their civil rights. Todd organized and established the first Civil Rights Office in a local United States Attorney's Office in 1969 and became the first full time black law professor at Northwestern University where he taught from 1970 to 1974. Todd also served as president of the Chicago chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1971 and president of Operation PUSH from 1983 -1984. He helped Chicago elect its first black mayor by using his powerful speaking skills to benefit Harold Washington's mayoral campaigns in 1983 and 1987.

CSU Library officials said they are currently undertaking an inventory of the documents and awards and plan to unveil a full exhibit this fall highlighting the Thomas N. Todd collection.