Guilford Commissioner Coleman dies

Jan. 27—A member of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners with a long history of activism across the Southeast died Wednesday night.

Carolyn Q. Coleman, 79, who represented District 7, was surrounded by family and friends when she died, Guilford County said in a press release.

Coleman was known for "her firebrand activism" and life of challenging racial inequities, dating to her childhood in Savannah, Georgia, where she was among the first students arrested in sit-in demonstrations, the press release said.

She had served as a member of the NAACP's national staff for over 28 years, including as regional youth director, Alabama state director, North Carolina state director and Southern voter education director. She also served two terms as a special assistant to N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt.

Coleman was first elected to the Guilford board in 2002 and served nearly 20 years representing District 7, covering Pleasant Garden and eastern Greensboro.

She became the board's first African American chairwoman in 2005, and she recently received the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials' Frederick Douglass Award for her efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a commissioner, Coleman advocated for the county's Feeding the Communities program, which provided 8,000 boxes of food to families in need from December 2020 to July 2021; advocated for a living wage; and led a push for Guilford County to increase its minimum wage for county employees, school nutrition workers and school bus driver to $15 an hour.