Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman has died. The community leader and civil rights champion represented the Pleasant Garden community and eastern Greensboro for nearly two decades.
Coleman's lifetime of activism and civic engagement traces back to Savannah, Georgia, where she was one of the first students arrested in the sit-in demonstrations there. She later received a Master of Science degree from North Carolina A&T University, served as a member of the NAACP's national staff for more than 28 years, and was appointed Special Assistant to Governor Jim Hunt. In 2005 Coleman became Guilford County's first Black Chairwoman.
Current Chairman Melvin “Skip” Alston, a close friend, says she championed the poor, organized food drives, fought for a livable wage, and never wavered in her advocacy for equity.
“Ms. Coleman was very astute. She was a hard fighter," he says. "And she was one of those that didn't take ‘no' for an answer. And she would fight for what she believed in, and always was true and honest to the efforts of bringing about civil rights and desegregation I would say.”
On Wednesday Alston received a phone call to join Coleman's family at the hospital so that he could spend time with her during her last hours.
“I'll miss her guidance and her advocacy for the poor," says Alston. "And her always thinking about civil rights and making sure that we address those issues head-on. She would do that.”
Last year, Coleman received the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials' Frederick Douglass Award for her work throughout the pandemic. She was 79 years old.