Carl Goodman, assistant director of Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice, received the Flemming Award at the Managers of Color's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. event on Jan. 11.
The award is given to people committed to social justice and is named after Dr. Arthur Flemming, who worked under President Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During his time at the White House, Flemming was appointed Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and worked to educate others about racial inequality. He later served as President of the University of Oregon.
Goodman, who works in Multnomah County DCJ’s Adult Services Division, oversees several programs and collaborates with community partners to promote safety. He has earned the respect and trust of fellow employees, as well as citizens throughout the county.
Goodman’s passion for helping others stems from his experiences growing up in segregated Little Rock, Ark., where he had to drink from separate water fountains and swim in lakes and rivers instead of public pools.
“I can see those signs in my mind right now: ‘Whites Only, Colored Only,’” Goodman said. Amidst the inequity, Goodman kept in mind his mother’s words: “Be a part of the solution, not another statistic.”
During his 34-year career in criminal justice, Goodman has always worked to foster diversity and equity in his community. While working as a manager at DCJ in the early 1980s, Goodman established the African American Program. It aims to reduce the disproportionate rates of incarceration for African Americans, and aids DCJ clients and their families in making smooth transitions from prison back in to the community. He has taken a strong lead in youth gang outreach, serving on committees and attending key strategy meetings.
Outside of the office, Goodman’s focus has been on at-risk young people. Goodman is a member of a board called “Connected,” a group of men who walk through gang hotspots throughout Portland and engage in one-on-one counseling with young people involved in gang activity. Volunteers ask young men to put down their weapons and seek more fruitful paths.
This year, Goodman and other contributors helped sponsor six local high school students so they could participate in a tour of historical black colleges, giving them the chance to visit campuses, as well as historical and cultural landmarks on the East Coast.
When few after-school programs existed, Goodman established the Harriet Tubman Athletic Association at Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women in Northeast Portland. He dedicated his time to coaching basketball to a group of middle school students, driving them from school to practice in a van bought by he and his wife, Bernita. Eventually, this program was copied by the city and grew into what is now known as the GoldenBall program.
Goodman’s selfless efforts, inside and out of the county, are what led to this recognition.
“It’s really humbling,” Goodman said, “because [Flemming] dedicated his life to the forward movement of people of color, and I have dedicated my life in a quiet way to doing the same things.”