Was Rosa Parks familiar and comfortable around guns? Was Rosa Parks a strong woman? Or did she just have a bad attitude? What exactly makes a strong daughter?
Today we're going to talk about civil rights icon Rosa Parks, her estranged father James McCauley, and her warring grandfather Sylvester Edwards.
Most of you have probably heard of Rosa Parks whether it was in elementary school or middle school. she was most famous for the bus incident in Montgomery Alabama. Where she refused to sit in the back of the bus where colored people were to sit. however Rosa Parks did not start her civil rights Journey with the bus incident, in fact, she had been involved in several other events prior to this. including three previous arrests and she was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP, which is a civil rights organization formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans.
Just to give a brief history about Rosa parks, she was born to Leona and John McCauley in Alabama. her dad worked in construction and carpentry during her early years. when Rosa Parks was elementary aged her father decided to leave and pursue his career instead of his family. in fact that's the last we hear of him in the history books. So Rosa’s mother moved her and her brother to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with Rosa’s maternal grandparents.
This is where we first hear about Sylvester Edwards. Sylvester was was Rosa's grandfather and was born to White Plantation owner John Edwards and Edwards black, enslaved housekeeper and seamstress. Talk about some family drama.
When Sylvester was born he was actually born into slavery under his own father's Rule and unfortunately was subjected to violence throughout childhood. all of this coming from stories Parks heard from her grandfather.
So moving on to Sylvester's adulthood, During the Reconstruction Era of the United States from 1865 to 1877 Edwards and his wife Rose continued to be enslaved by his own father John Edwards. However later on in life Sylvester and his wife we're able to inherit 18 Acres of farmland from Rose's grandfather James Percival. from there on out Sylvester and Rose became free and had a little slice of the world to themselves.
Despite their land ownership and their new freedoms, They still faced inequalities and segregation for the rest of their days. Because of this Edwards was understandably cynical towards whites, had a passionate hatred for them and instilled in his grandchildren the importance of standing up for yourself in the face of Injustice to his family.
According to Rosa her grandfather was also known for sleeping in the living room every night next to his double barrel shotgun just in case any Klansmen, or other groups of white men were to attack his family, he would be at the ready. He was the only man in the house aside from his young grandson, Rosa's brother, also named Sylvester, so he knew it was his duty to protect them all. He had to protect his land and to stand up for what he valued most: his freedom. Rosa also tells us about the numerous guns placed all around the house so her grandfather would always be prepared for a gun fight.
Her grandfather's sense of protection can be seen in one story from Rosa. In Rosa Parks autobiography we read an account from her childhood where she tells of an incident where she had to fight off a young white boy named Franklin. She as at the young age of 10 years old. Rosa Parks tells us that she picked up a brick to defend herself, threatening him to move along else she hurt him. She was able to Stave off the boy and remembers that moment as a pivotal one.
Rosa's grandfather was very adamant about education. Making his 3 daughters including Leona go to school and of course instilling the desire for education in Rosa. after attending school in Pine Level, Rosa attended Miss White's Montgomery industrial School for Girls in Montgomery.
Sylvester finally passed away on August 20th 1923 in Montgomery. leaving behind his legacy of Justice and righteous defiance. he instilled these qualities in Rosa where his legacy, and Rosa's life culminated in the arrest in December 1955. This event was one of the Sparks that began Civil Rights Movement.
Now what can we Modern Men, white, black yellow, red, whatever color, whatever ethnicity, can we take away from Sylvester? at the very least I think some of the qualities Rosa exemplified were her strength, discernment, and good judgment between what is right and wrong. said another way she had a strong sense of morals and she had the courage to defend those morals.
I have a 1-year-old daughter and while she is very far away from pissing off bus drivers, I would like to instill in her some of these qualities like a strong sense of right and wrong, courage to defend her own beliefs, and good judgment in life. so looking back at Edwards how exactly did he do this?
Before we get into that though one thing I want to ask you men is how would you live your life and what would you do if you and your family were persecuted on The Daily just because of the way you look. Think of something you can relate to. eye color, hair color, some personal beliefs, or maybe it's even your family history.
Wow would you parent when you have to wake up every day and face a world and a community that hates you and tells you you're different and tells you that you're worthless and the only thing you're good for is working for other people?
So how would you father? I think this is a very important question to ask ourselves because it gives us insight and empathy as to why Sylvester parented the way he did. and on top of all that we have James McCauley who was the father of Rosa any left town. so not only is Sylvester parenting his three daughters with Leona living there but now he has to worry about two grandkids.
So now let's review what McCauley and Edwards did and the key takeaways we can use as men today in the modern world. 4 things
- 1 Never leave your family
- One key takeaway from McCauley was do not leave your family
- If you do leave, then you are allowing your child to be raised by someone else for better or worse
- In Rosa's case she was very lucky that she was raised by her grandfather
- She could have very easily been raised by women only or people of power in her school or community or even worse she could have been raised by the streets
- And by the way this applies to long-term and short-term presence with your family
- Don't think for a second that the schools or the child care will raise your family either
- So that's key takeaway number one, never leave your family
- 2 Be congruent with your beliefs
- Sylvester Edwards was congruent with his beliefs
- Day in and day out Sylvester reminded his family the difference between right and wrong
- And that they need to stand up for what is right
- 3 Self-reliance
- How did he do that? Guns
- He taught self-reliance
- He taught Rosa that no one is coming for you
- You must protect yourself, your loved ones and the things you value on your own
- 4 Stand up for what you believe in and for what is right even if society tells you otherwise
- Even though slavery and segregation was a societal norm, it still wasn't right
- Sylvester was very vocal and rebellious in his community Rosa definitely picked up on that
Check out the video podcast here on the Legacy Father YouTube channel.