Hundreds expected to attend Judge George Carroll memorial service

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Hundreds of community members are expected to file into Richmond Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday morning, Jan. 27, to remember Judge George D. Carroll, the man who did so much for so many.

Richmond’s first black lawyer, city councilmember and mayor died in in his sleep on Thursday, Jan. 14. He was 94.

The news of his death, which we first heard via an online tribute by Mayor Tom Butt, deeply affected the community. After hearing of his passing, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said he felt compelled to tell Carroll’s story beyond an obituary. If only people could talk about how the judge impacted them, Gioia told us, his contributions would be more fully recognized and remembered.

Gioia will join Mayor Butt, Carroll’s family and community members to do just that at Wednesday’s memorial, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

carroll.1-15A statement from the Richmond mayor’s office regarding the memorial offered a brief history of the judge’s accomplishments:

“Judge Carroll was elected to the Richmond City Council in 1961 and served as the city’s first African-American mayor in 1964, making him the first African-American mayor of a large American city. Judge Carroll became the first African-American judge in Contra Costa County when he was appointed to the Contra Costa Municipal Court in 1965 by then-Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown. Judge Carroll passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, January 14, 2016.”

Gioia successfully proposed re-naming the Richmond Courthouse after Carroll in 2009.

“I believed it was significant to have the symbol of the legal system in West Contra Costa County named after a leading local African-American role model, knowing that sometimes that system was not fair and impartial toward African-Americans,” Gioia said in a Facebook post. “I feel fortunate to have known Judge Carroll. We have lost a real statesman and a trailblazer for so many.”

At Councilmember Nat Bates’ request, the City Council meeting on Tuesday closed in memory of Carroll.

“We want to express our condolences to the Carroll family,” said Bates, who called the judge a personal friend and a “great friend to the city.”