Photo by Jason Schumer

The Dr. Conrad Worrill Track and Field Center opened in 2021 after three years of construction. Located within Pullman’s Gately Park, the center seats 3,500 people and is equipped for track meets, volleyball and basketball games, and various fitness needs. It also has multipurpose meeting rooms for  non-sporting events , such as the Words of Wonder Literary Fest this past July. In addition, the center includes programming from the teen employment program After School Matters.

The center is named after Dr. Conrad Worrill, a longtime Chicago resident and activist who pushed for its creation. Worrill led a rich, long life full of many pursuits, from being a civil rights activist to a talk show host on WVON. He was drafted into the army and stationed in Japan, during which he read widely about African-American history and culture, and talked to Black soldiers from back home. When he returned home he enrolled in college and became an active member of the anti-war Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He earned a doctorate in education and taught at George Williams College and Northeastern Illinois University, where, as he put it, he helped young people understand the relationship between “power and institutions.” 

Worrill played a role in the election of Harold Washington and in the National Black United Front, a radical organization with roots in the Pan-African movement and which now has chapters all over the country. He was instrumental in organizing the Million Man March with Louis Farrakhan in 1995. Worrill would always say he was influenced by his father who was active with the NAACP and YMCA.

In an interview with WTTW, Worrill’s daughter Femi Skanes said, “He despised the fact that our children did not have an adequate facility to help them hone their track and field skills.” Worrill passed in 2020, shortly before the center’s completion. Skane said her father would talk about the building fondly. “He would burst with pride when he talked about the new track and field stadium.”

Dr. Conrad Worrill Track and Field Center, 10201 S. Cottage Grove Ave. 7am–10pm. 773-941-8232.

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