Joel Odom's great-grandmother Vera Williams, center, holds a candle during an evening vigil held to honor the life of the late community activist. Photo: QCity Metro

Dozens gathered Friday night to celebrate the life of Joel Odom, who, at age 20, was the youngest candidate in the 2019 mayoral race. The candlelight vigil was held at his alma mater, Northwest School of the Arts. 

Odom, 22, was found dead inside his home on Feb. 25. The medical examiner’s office has not released its findings.

Family, friends and colleagues spoke throughout the evening of Odom’s commitment to Charlotte. 

“Joel was like my son, and I miss him so much,” Vera Williams, his great-grandmother said. 

Charlotte  City Council member Dimple Ajmera described him as “courageous and bright beyond his years.”

“He loved Beatties Ford Road,” Melody Spears, principal at Northwest School of the Arts, said. “Beatties Ford is a special place to not only me, but to Joel as well.”

Toward the end of the vigil, NAACP Charlotte President Corine Mack awarded Joel’s family with the branch’s President’s Award in his honor.

“I think we’re all better because we knew him,” at-large County Commissioner Pat Cotham said.

A funeral service will be today at St. Paul Baptist Church in the Belmont neighborhood, beginning with a public viewing at 11 a.m.

NAACP Charlotte President Corine Mack, right, comforts Joel Odom’s sister, who was remembering her late brother at a Friday night vigil held in his honor. Photo: QCity Metro

Jonathan is a former QCity Metro reporter who covered Charlotte neighborhoods north of uptown. He also reported on education, public safety and health.

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