Woodrow Coleman, Presente!
Jan. 14, 1934 – Jan. 5, 2020
An Exemplary Activist:
Woodrow Coleman was born in Texarkana TX, the oldest son of Aubrey and Olilah Coleman. He had four younger brothers, two of whom have passed away. Woodrow was married for four years to Bonnie Coleman. They have one son, Doug, and two grandchildren.
Woodrow’s Memorial was held on January 11, 2020 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach.
He was much loved by all who met him… His Memorial was well attended, and an impressive slide show of his life was featured.
Woodrow was born during the Great Depression in segregated Jim Crow territory. His father worked on the railroad; his mother did housework and childcare for white families. He grew up in a neighborhood with lots of extended family. His later childhood was marred by his mother’s poor health, hospitalized over a year for TB away from her family.
As the oldest, Woodrow worked from a young age. Segregation and racism cut him deeply. He would refuse to go to the rear door of a diner to get food to go no matter how hungry he was. After a serious dispute with an employer, he decided to leave Texas. In LA circa 1955, work and community was possible for a young Black man.
As the civil rights movement started making changes in the South, the same was happening in LA. Woodrow got involved with CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). Two major issues they took on were equality in employment and housing. They used numerous tactics similar to those employed in the South. Many don’t know how segregated LA was by racist housing covenants, dictating who could or couldn’t live in certain areas. They picketed and “died-in” at segregated developments. When businesses wouldn’t hire “Negroes”, CORE picketed until some of that was changed. Woodrow and others started a new organization when they felt CORE was not militant enough.
His activism didn’t end in the ‘60s; his awareness of the importance of working in wide coalitions with poor, working class and people of color throughout the area has brought him into many organizations.
Woodrow was no stranger to Jail, as he was arrested many times for challenging the existing state of affairs, particularly with regard to social and political issues. He worked tirelessly toward changing existing social structure and values to a more equitable system…
As he nearly reached 86, you could still see him passing out leaflets, engaging in dialogue, marching in demonstrations and participating in the on-going struggle for social justice. His commitment is exemplary to many and younger generations.
In your memory, we wish you the peace you deserve and glory of your devotion in a global space.
Your unique nature gave birth to many seeds…
Those you saw grow and those yet to be…
We thank you for your selfless commitment.
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