Hundreds honor ‘voice to the voiceless’

Hundreds honor ‘voice to the voiceless’
March 24
00:00 2016
Photo by Tevin Stinson
Earline Parmon’s granddaughter, Shalonda Ingram talks about the impact her grandmother had on her life during a memorial service on Monday, March 21.



Earline Parmon’s funeral attracts wide range of people

Hundreds of residents from across the city and state filed into Emmanuel Baptist Church Monday afternoon to celebrate the life of the first black state senator to represent Forsyth County.

Former N.C. lawmaker and social justice warrior Earline Parmon, 72, who was the director of out-reach for U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, passed away from complications of a brief illness last week at Novant Forsyth Medical Center. Before joining Adams, Parmon had a long career as an elected official.

“Earline Parmon gave a voice to the voiceless,” Adams said during the funeral service.

Parmon served for 12 years on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. She also served in the N.C. House of Representatives for 12 years, where she represented the 72nd District.

In 2012, she was elect-ed to the N.C. Senate, representing the 32nd District. While serving in the state senate, Parmon most notably sponsored legislation that kick-started the Silver Alert system for missing senior citizens and measures that have helped improve the state’s high school graduation rate.

Parmon was an educator and school principal as well. She founded the now-defunct LIFT Academy, a charter school that is credited with graduating youth who had been written off by the public school system.

She was first vice president of the Winston-Salem Branch of the NAACP, and was a veteran and a minister.

During the memorial service, Adams said that Parmon had a special gift of connecting with people. Adams also mentioned she spoke with Parmon three times before she died on Tuesday, March 15.

“She was honest, courageous, straight-forward and compassionate, committed to the people and concerned about their welfare,” continued Adams. “Earline Parmon gave a voice to the voice-less. We are all much better as a result.”

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said Parmon was a crusader for the rights of the less fortunate across the state of N.C. Joines mentioned she also had pride in her heritage and often honored her mentors and those she worked with in the past.

“She learned from women like Velma Hopkins, and Maize Woodruff,” said Joines. “She then in turn gave back to the young up and coming leaders in this community.”

Joines mentioned that although Parmon was a sweet lady, she was also a fighter and a warrior who believed in getting things done. During the celebration of life, Joines issued a proclamation declaring 30 days of mourning and remembrance for Parmon.

“We will truly miss her but we will never forget her,” Joines noted.

For nearly three hours, former colleagues of Parmon from Raleigh, Washington and the local area echoed the thoughts of Adams and Joines.

Others who spoke during the ceremony included U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, who worked with Parmon in the General Assembly; Rep. Garland E. Pierce; state Sen. Paul Lowe, who replaced Parmon in the state Senate. Dozens more discussed Parmon’s determination to stand up for the disadvantaged.

According to Judge Denise Hartsfield, the family received more than two dozen letters of condolences as well. The family is expected to receive a letter from President Barack Obama later this week.

A number of family members and close friends gave those who attended a glimpse into what the former senator was like outside of politics. Parmon was a minister at Exodus United Baptist Church. Pastor Alvin Carlisle said, “Parmon was a force to be reckoned with. She may have been small in stature, but she was a powerhouse who loved The Lord.”

Parmon’s granddaughter Shalonda Ingram, said Parmon helped set the tone for her  life. Ingram mentioned that while growing up, when she didn’t know what to do next, all she had to do was look to her grandmother.

“Everything that she ever taught us, told us, and every expectation she had in us were seeds,” Ingram said. “Every person in this room is a product of a seed that she planted.

“Earline isn’t gone. Every person in here has a piece of her inside them,” she continued. “So whatever it is that she inspired you to do, continue to do that, because she is still watching.”

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