News Local/State

Former Champaign Co. Board Member Lloyd Carter Dead At 86

Lloyd Carter, Jr.

Lloyd Carter, Jr., in 1973, near the end of his time as an Urbana alderman. Champaign-Urbana Courier / Urbana Free Library Archives

“I don’t like to sling mud,” a young Urbana city council member named Lloyd Carter, Jr. told the Champaign-Urbana Courier in 1971. “I think we could get more done if we work together”.

Carter, one of Champaign-Urbana’s first African-American elected officials, died Wednesday at the age of 86, one year after leaving public office.

Carter’s comments in 1971 were part of an attempt to explain to angry Republicans on the Urbana City Council why he changed his vote on a controversial sign ordinance.  Alderman Carter broke away from his fellow Democrats to vote with the Republicans, resulting in a tie vote. He subsequently changed his vote --- not due to coercion from fellow Democrats, he said, but because they had presented a reasonable argument.

Years later, Champaign County NAACP President Patricia Avery says civility and a readiness to work with others were hallmarks of Carter’s character.

“He was a consensus builder, and I think that compromise was not a bad word for him,” said Avery, who announced Carter’s death on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

Avery got to know Carter in the 1990’s, when she was elected to the Champaign County Board. Carter had been elected a few years earlier, several years after his six-year tenure on the Urbana City Council.

Avery, who would become the Champaign County Board first Democratic Chair,  says Carter was a mentor to her in those early years when Republicans were in the majority.

“As we deliberated in caucus or on the board, I could just see how compassionate he was about the work, and about changing life for the better in Champaign County,” said Avery.

Carter was a native of Edwards, Mississippi. But he had been living in Urbana for several years by the time he was first elected to the city council in the 1960’s. After military service during the Korean War, Carter worked as an electrician, at one point at the Clifford-Jacobs Forging Co. in Champaign, and later as an electrical contractor.  

Carter was also active for several years in the Champaign County NAACP, serving at one point as the chapter’s president.

Carter’s 24 years on the Champaign County Board ended in 2016. After missing several meetings due to illness, he was defeated in the 2016 Democratic primary by James Tinsley, who went on to win the general election.

The Champaign County Young Democrats, who had endorsed Tinsley in the primary election, remembered Carter Wednesday as “a dedicated champion of the black community of Champaign-Urbana”.

“Long ago,” the Young Democrats statement continued, “he planted the seeds of investment that we see today in so many social services and programs geared towards his community by multiple levels of government in Champaign County.”

Funeral arrangements for Carter are pending at Walker Funeral Services and Chapel in Champaign.