Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, one of the most outspoken and colorful commissioners the county has ever known, passed away in a hospital bed on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
Coleman, who lived in Pleasant Garden and represented county commissioner District 7, fought fiercely for her constituents and their concerns. In return, for two decades, they kept voting her back onto the board.
She often argued that her part of the county should get more attention from the Board of Commissioners, and should see a more equitable share of retail and economic activity.
She also often spoke out on matters of racial justice.
Coleman’s ultimate demise Wednesday comes as a surprise to many, given that, in recent weeks, Coleman has been regularly participating in county meetings and exhibiting the same vigor on that board that she has for years.
Coleman was a native of Savannah, Georgia, and a graduate of Savannah State College.
She also studied at Memphis Theological Seminary and, at North Carolina A&T State University, where she earned a Master of Science degree in adult education.
Coleman was a staunch defender of civil rights and she fought constantly for minority concerns. She was fond of talking about times that she got arrested for standing up for a cause – what the late John Lewis called “good trouble.”
Coleman was also very proud of the eight years she served as a special assistant to Governor Jim Hunt. She was a trusted advisor to the governor for minority-related legislation and associated concerns.
Coleman was very active in the NAACP. She served as the secretary to the NAACP National Board of Directors and as the vice president of the North Carolina NAACP in addition to holding other offices with that organization.
She was also active in numerous volunteer organizations and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Coleman was instrumental in getting the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to hold food drives to get food into the hands of the needy.
i’m saddened to hear of her death because I always got the impression that she genuinely believed in her public positions. She was “what you see is what you get”. So many pols take a position because they calculate it will be to their political advantage, but that was never the case with her.
I spoke with her a few times years ago at Alma Adams’ old house off Liberty Road. We disagreed about everything, but she was never caustic or rude. The public arena would be a better place if more were like her.
Sorry to hear of Carolyn Colemans passing. I liked Carolyn even though politically we seldom agreed. We first met when she worked for Gov. Hunt as his Minority representative. She was a woman who was committed to her cause, which was furthering the minority agenda. She would not back down, though small in height, she was large in heart. She was arrested by me for civil disturbance during the K-Mart demonstrations. I arrested her and many that day and she knew I would. It was not her only arrest. While the arrest was peaceful and she was treated fairly she did not forget. When she became a commissioner she never let me forget it. No matter what I brought before the commission you could count on her pulling it to question me about it, then she would vote against it. She did it every time, it became a joke with the other commissioners. I remember one meeting she realized she had not pulled my item and hurriedly started looking for the agenda number to pull. One of the other commissioners provided her the number which she immediately pulled. I asked her why, when I usually had the votes to get it passed. Her reply, I’m just having fun with you. She told me more than once, you’re a good sheriff for a republican, but I’m not going to say that publicly. I’d ask her to endorse me every election, she responded, you know you got this. If Carolyn makes it to heaven and I hope she does, she will be organizing a march or demonstration of some kind. Rest in peace Carolyn. It won’t be the same without you. BJ Barnes
What a great analogy, of a political relationship. Proves that we can be on opposite poles, and still respect each other’s abilities and agendas. She, and her virtues will be missed!
My name is kimberly and I would like to leave my condolences and prayers to the family of Ms Coleman I meet Ms Coleman some years ago and offered my help to her as she needed help taken some things to her car and putting them in her car,etc. We had prayer and she gave me card to keep intouch and I was glad to keep the card. She will always be remembered.
Did her homework and was energetic but courteous on behalf of her constituents.
I was shocked and saddened to hear of Ms. Coleman’s passing. She worked hard for our district and she will be sorely missed.
My sincere condolences to a lady whom I felt always spoke from her heart.
We will miss our NAACP champion for civil rights! RIP Soldier Carolyn Q. Coleman!
Carolyn Coleman you always cheered me on. You gave me good advice. And you always stood up for right. I remember you told me “be strong and lean on God” I know your in heaven and can now RIP!!!!
I will miss you!!!
Ms. Coleman was a true champion. Her presence will be missed,!but her contributions to the people of Greensboro will never be forgotten. Rest in power.