Levert Paul King, Jr. (“Tawo”) was born on January 30, 1936 to Virdgie and Levert Paul King, Sr. in Chicago, Illinois. He was an only child but his extended family life during his youth included his Aunt Bessie King and cousin Barbara King, and later his step-father Jimmie Mullins.
Levert was a gifted student. He attended Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School where he excelled at his studies. His grades led him to St. Ignatius High School where he was a self-proclaimed “phenomenal” point guard basketball player whose love of the game and skill set were apparently passed into the genes of his grandson. He then went on to DePaul University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education. DePaul University was also where he pledged the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi, and formed life-long friendships with his line brothers in the Iota Chapter and the Chicago Alumni Chapter. Later, he worked on a Master’s degree in Social Work from George Williams College with a concentration in Administration and Supervision.
Levert married Mary Ann Cooper and to this union were born his two daughters – Alisa and Deborah. Levert was a proud and boastful father who instilled in his daughters an appreciation for education and cultural pride. He was instrumental in helping his daughters realize their own career paths and goals.
Levert’s professional life was formulated and seasoned during the height of the Civil Rights Movement out of his love and compassion for Black people all over the world. He was a social worker by trade – working in various management positions including Executive Director of the former South Shore YMCA, Program Director of the Chicago Archdiocese’s Head Start program, and a Specialist for the Chicago Housing Authority. But he was also a political and philosophical humanitarian, serving over the years on a number of community and grass roots organizations as a political activist and strategist.
Levert became a part of a group of professional people who formed a special organization named “The Catalyst’s” which was devoted to making positive changes in the lives of Black people in the areas of social work, education, arts, health and other disciplines. The bonds and friendships that he made with members of this organization lasted for decades. The work that they did and the influence that they had is still ongoing in the generations that followed them.
It was from his affiliation with this group of people that Levert experienced one of the highlights of his life – his 1977 trip to the continent of Africa with a group that included his two daughters. During this trip, he was able to view his past up close at the Elmina Castle slave trading post on the coast of Ghana, and kick back at the compound of famed musician and political activist Fela Kuti in Nigeria.
Levert suffered a couple of strokes in the early 2000’s. As his physical health declined he continued to stimulate his mind with his love of reading and his love of music. Levert left this world on November 28, 2018. He now sits under a baobab tree with the ancestors strategizing a new world order.
He leaves to cherish his memory his two daughters, Alisa (King) Starks and Deborah King; his only grandson, Ahmad Starks; and a host of friends.