The death of Ambassador Walter Carrington about two weeks ago at the age of 90 brought to an end a remarkable life, of this extraordinary man, who grew up long before the civil rights movement who came of age in this city, and who rose to the heights on the back of hard work, the power of his great personality, and due to the development of a powerful intellect.
He was among a handful of black men and women living in this city when he came of age.
The city accepted Walter Carrington, not because he was black, but rather, because he was the real thing even as a young man starting out in his life.
He came to be a notable civil rights leader and always noted his beliefs were forged growing up in Everett and then at Harvard University, where he was one of four black students in his class.
As a younger man rising in civil rights circles, he became friends with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
He once debated Malcolm X when he was an undergraduate at Harvard.
He graduated from Harvard Law School.
Ambassador Carrington’s work in Africa became his enduring legacy as the Ambassador to Senegal appointed by President Jimmy Carter and then later, as President Clinton’s ambassador to Nigeria.
Ambassador Carrington during a long life always stood against human rights abuses.
He advocated for democracy in Nigeria – something easier said than done as he served during a time of dictatorship in Nigeria.
He never stepped back from criticizing the dictatorship in Nigeria. He played a heroic role in Nigeria finally achieving independence from military rule.
The noted American scholar Henry Louis Gates said of Ambassador Carrington, “when Walter attended Harvard College, gaining admission for a Black person was something of a statistical miracle, signifying — in a word — brilliance. And the commitment to leadership within the Black community, a commitment that Walter filled with grace, elegance, and aplomb.”
He grew up in Everett, the oldest of two siblings. His parents split up when he was very young.
His mother worked as a waitress.
He graduated from Everett High School in 1948.
His Everett heritage was always something for him to behold. He loved coming back here, as he did recently to lead the Homecoming Parade.
To all the Carrington’s, our sincerest condolences upon his death.
This is for certain: he was an Everett man through and through. We shall not see his likes again.