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Honoring Calvin C. Goode: Reflecting on the servant leader and history maker

Arizona Civil Rights Leader
Posted at 5:14 AM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 11:13:25-05

PHOENIX — Back in December, the Phoenix community laid to rest 93-year-old Calvin C. Goode. Two months after his departure, ABC15 sat down with those who knew him best -- his family, one of his mentees, and a colleague who knew the caliber of person Mr. Goode was for everyone he came in contact with.

As Black History Month comes to an end, we leave you with a deeper knowledge of the Arizona civil rights leader and all that he left behind for the community he loved so much.

“He was always that little boy from outside of Gila Bend, Arizona, who grew up on a homestead and went into town through the week and attended the segregated elementary school, and ended up being the valedictorian in his class,” says Vernon Goode, the eldest of Mr. Goode's three sons.

“And when they (community members) came over to see Mr. Goode, because very few people called him Calvin, they had no idea how government functioned,” adds Vernon, speaking of those who sought out Mr. Goode for help when they needed a community leader to advocate for them.

Vernon says he grew up seeing his father attend the needs of his community, and it wasn't just at city council meetings -- people would call the Goode home or they’d show up at the door, and his father was always there.

“Eleven times he ran for office, over 22 years, and he continued to be successful. I truly believe it was because people knew the type of person he was. He was a respectful, honorable, history maker,” says Carole Henry, a City of Phoenix retiree. She met Mr. Goode when she was 25 years old.

“One of the first things he told me when I first met him... he said, 'there’s rights and privileges that people have in society, Carole, and those need to be extended to everybody,'” adds Henry.

In 1980, he assigned her to one of his life accomplishments, the South Phoenix Youth Center.

"'You have an opportunity here to take this center and address some of the society ills that we know are happening to our people in the South Phoenix community. It’s on you, I’m here to support you,'” adds Henry.

Today, the 16th Street bridge adjacent to Eastlake Park, just east of Downtown Phoenix, is a testament to his commitment to the underserved community.

“The 16th Street overpass, for example, is something that he took a lot of pride in because he was told it could never happen,” adds Vernon.

Dr. Josephine Pete, a retired superintendent from the Phoenix Union High School District, remembers when Mr. Goode was a school community worker.

"It was a time of student unrest and Mr. Goode happened to be the man for the time,” says Dr. Pete.

The schools at the time no longer segregated, but students, she says, were not integrated, which left many feeling unrepresented.

“He was the one who had been there for them. He had an ear for them and a voice for them,” adds Dr. Pete.

Pivotal not just at the high school level, Councilman Goode also took it upon himself to spread early literacy and education, making the Booker T. Washington Early Development Center one of his public service accomplishments.

“Cal enjoyed helping people. He wasn’t there to be applauded or publicized. He was there to help,” says Dr. Pete.

Janae Goode, one of his six grandchildren, remembers his most attributable quality.

"Just like so giving, it really stuck with me and...I wanna do more for other people,” says Janae.

Today, Mr. Goode’s footprints are all over the city. There are billboards in his honor and a city building at 251 West Washington St. was named in his honor in the 1980s. All of this serves as proof of the legacy this Phoenix icon is leaving for all to see and to never forget.

“He was a servant leader before he was a public leader,” adds Dr. Pete.

"His legacy will be for each of us to have service and that is the servant leader that was in him,” adds Henry.

“Find a way to help somebody and if we are doing that, that in itself is his legacy,” says Vernon.