Community leader Carolyn Saulson passes

Carolyn Saulson

Carolyn Saulson (Feb. 24, 1948 – Jan. 14, 2019) passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 70. A resident of Berkeley, California, she was the board president and a founder of Iconoclast Productions, a Bay Area media arts non-profit serving the Black community.

She attended Berkeley City College, had an AA in Psychology, and attended Cal State Dominguez. She’d been diagnosed with multiple myeloma Aug. 10, 2009. It is a rare blood cancer that predominantly affects African Americans. Carolyn was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Los Angeles, California. She’d been a Bay Area resident since 1987.

She leaves behind two children, Sumiko Saulson and Scott Saulson, and three grandchildren, Franchesca Saulson, Elisabetta Maria Saulson and Joshua Andrakin; sisters Yvonne Matthews, Gloria Matthews, Glenna Matthews, and a brother, Stephen Matthews, as well as a number of nieces, nephews and cousins including Tim Smith, Toni Matthews, Coco Matthews, Damon Pascal, Loren M. Jordan, Marilyn Meeks, Crystal Anthony, Christopher Anthony, Keda Matthews, Rae Rae Matthews, Dashenae Matthews, Antoine Matthews, Gina Lee Shansey, Angie Martinez, Crystal Terrell, Elizabeth Saulson, Mike Saulson, and Brian Saulson. She was predeceased by her brother James Matthews, parents Eleanor Matthews nee Lynch and Leon Matthews, her ex-husband Robert Allen Saulson and his siblings Donald Saulson, Charlene Martinez and James Saulson.

Carolyn was a community leader in both the African American and the Disabilities Rights Advocacy Community. She was a founder of the Iconoclast San Francisco Black Independent Film Festival and the African American Multimedia Conference. She was a proud member of WryCrips Disabled Women’s Reading Theater and the African American Historical and Cultural Society. She volunteered at the African American Art and Culture Complex between 1987 and 2005. She was a San Francisco Juneteenth Festival board member throughout the ‘90s.

She co-authored a Black Who’s Who directory with Joyce Durant for the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in the late 1970s and was a published professional poet. She was also the author of several plays and the novella and graphic novel “Living a Lie.” She was the lead singer for the band Stagefright, a family band where she sang with her son Scott and daughter Sumiko.

She was on a radio program with Mickey McMeel in Los Angeles in the 1970s, exposing psychiatric abuses with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. She had a television program, Stagefright, a variety show with local talent that aired in San Francisco, Berkeley, Vallejo, Dayton, Ohio, New York City, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Detroit and Toronto between 1993 and 2016.

Carolyn was a Baptist and a member of Greater Faith Baptist Church.

Homegoing services will be held at the Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, CA 94611 – quiet reflection on Monday, Feb. 4, 3-5 p.m., and funeral service Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2-4 p.m.