Entombment of attorney John M. Caldwell Jr.’s remains were held at Collins Family Cemetery in Littig, Texas. Caldwell, 52, died on May 18, 2012, of cardiac arrest resulting from complications of renal failure.
Memorial services were held on Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles on May 25.
Caldwell, who practiced law in both Westwood and Leimert Park, was a graduate of UCLA and the University of Texas School of Law in Austin. In Austin, he was founder and president of the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society and clerked for Central Texas Legal Aid while working in the Austin minority community.
While at UCLA, he was involved in student government and served as president of the Black Student Alliance in his senior year. He graduated magna cum laude in 1981.
Caldwell was considered a brilliant student and an astute political strategist. It was at UCLA, where his lifelong commitment to ideas and social involvement crystallized.
“He was a model for how a student could come into that environment and maximize their ability to take advantage of those resources,” Mandla Kayise told the Daily Bruin, the UCLA newspaper.
Kayise is a UCLA alumnus and was Caldwell’s friend and law partner “He tried to share that example with African American kids and students from all backgrounds–any students who were finding it really hard to find their place, students looking for more.”
L.A. County deputy district attorney Bobby Grace, another UCLA alumnus, was also quoted in the Daily Bruin as saying: “John was the most brilliant political strategist for student government that USAC (Undergraduate Students Association Council) has ever known. He was UCLA to me because he was such a dynamic figure. He shaped my world as to my cultural view and political view.”
For years he helped UCLA students avoid jail and served without charge as attorney to the Black Student Alliance.
Caldwell was described as a “witty, curious intellectual with a photographic memory” and an incessant reader. He had a passion for African American and minority artwork as well as books on history, politics and social justice.
As an attorney, he is credited with accepting “case after case representing juveniles pro bono; arguing civil rights.” He never billed the Leimert Park Merchants Association for his legal services and regularly took appointments as a member of the Los Angeles Bar Association’s Indigent Criminal Defense Association.
Caldwell is survived two sisters, Cherry Caldwell Young of Colleyville, Texas, and Jennifer Caldwell of Beverly Hills; a nephew, Ryan Young, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a niece, Rianna, a pre-law student at St. John’s University in New York; three aunts, Donnie Breedlove, Carrie Holmes and Cherry Leathers.