Reverend Claude Black Jr. cared deeply about his family. He made great efforts to track down his family’s genealogy and historical background. He traced his family line back to a family of slaves, remained in contact with distant relatives, and even kept an ambrotype of a man who might have been his great-great-grandfather. Claude and his wife ZerNona worked to ensure a well-rounded and Christian upbringing for their family by taking their children on memorable vacations and attending family reunions to maintain contact with relatives near and far.
ZerNona Black played a central role in managing both the personal and ministerial aspects of Claude’s life. According to his autobiography, Grandpa Was a Preacher: A Letter to My Grandson, Claude and ZerNona met after he read an article about her coming to town as the new director of the YMCA’s Sycamore Street USO. The two married on February 10th, 1946. They cared for multiple foster children, eventually adopting Joyce, their daughter. Before their marriage, ZerNona had children of her own, which Reverend Black adopted into his family as though they were his own.
Through his work with multiple institutions of higher education and his own educational endeavours, the Reverend hoped to advocate for and support higher education for African American and marginalized youths. He gew up in San Antonio, TX and attended multiple colleges for his undergraduate degree, then earned his master’s degree in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts. He remained involved with all of his alma maters. Many other educational institutions reached out to him to speak at events or serve as a faculty member. He continued his education by taking classes at Trinity University in the Urban Studies Graduate department, showing his dedication to life-long learning and to staying informed about his city and the challenges that it faced.