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.