On the afternoon of March 20, 2011, a confident, charismatic 71-year old Edward H. “Ed” Wisdom Jr. gracefully charmed and captured an audience of hundreds in Vanderbilt’s Wyatt Center with a statement that employed the likeness of a historic address, “[I have surpassed] three score and ten” (70 years) smiling proudly and profoundly, measuring the longevity of his wisdom on life and the state of our society, doing so with and for effect as he had just reached 71 years six days prior. He would not witness another birthday.
The event that had taken place that afternoon was prophetically titled “The Rebirth…” and on March 14, 2012, some seventy-two years after the birth of Edward H. Wisdom Jr., The Edward H. Wisdom Jr. Foundation was born. The silence of his tragic murder was deafening, and the Foundation’s goal is to give this city and him new life. His devastating loss heightened the awareness and touched every issue from gang violence to criminal activity to at-risk youth to sentencing guidelines to incarceration to community involvement to law enforcement to political initiatives to social activism to safety to literacy to economic development to human capital to family perseverance AND to LIFE, LOVE, and LEGACY. The Edward H. Wisdom Jr. Foundation aims to resonate in the minds of the masses that our youth are not the only ones At-Risk, we ALL are.
Edward Henry “Jack” Wisdom Jr. was born on March 14 the same day as one of the most prolific intellects in human history, Albert Einstein. As a Mathematician, Wisdom Jr. studied theory immensely, as Einstein studied theory immensely. Wisdom Jr.’s intelligence and memory was impeccable. He remembered serial numbers on money and sorted his money as such. Wisdom Jr. was happily married to his wife, and author of 17 books, Emma of 49 years, in which they birthed two children Rolanda Michelle and Ed III.
Wisdom Jr. made such an impact on everyone in his family as his son followed his footsteps into Management Information Systems, as Senior Manager of MIS at Vanderbilt, as did his grandson, Erik Wisdom, who is a senior at Tennessee State University. Wisdom Jr. was the Director of Management Information Systems for 37 years at Tennessee State University where he gain acclaim with such honors as the Presidential Service Award. He gained his expertise in his field in earlier years as one of two blacks in IBM’s top secret security clearance facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey where they put computers on aircraft headed into space and submarines ascending below water.
Wisdom Jr. was the best of friends with Olympian Wilma Rudolph as they grew up together and was even pallbearer in her funeral. He was the one of the first African-American undergraduate student’s, and the first in Mathematics (and Industrial Arts) at Austin Peay University and the first African-American school teacher at Clarksville High School. Following in the footsteps of his father Edward H. Wisdom Sr., Wisdom Jr. decided too he wanted to be a decorated man of the armed forces after his father served this country honorably in the Navy during World War II and had traveled a tour of duty that was the equivalent of 5 times around the world. However, this time it would not be from the sea but from this country’s great skies.
The fearlessness in Wisdom Jr. steered him towards the United States Army and it would be the highly decorated 82nd Airborne Infantry Division. The unit acquired the nickname “All-American”, which is the basis for its famed “AA” shoulder patch and Wisdom Jr. was all of that and more. The 82nd Airborne America’s Guard of Honor coined the motto “All the way!” and Wisdom Jr. lived indeed his life “All the way.” Wisdom Jr. was too a member of the highly decorated group of All-Black 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, “The Triple Nickles”. Looking up to big brother, “Jack” as he was known by his family there would be four more brothers that would follow Wisdom Jr. into the armed forces, and one other follow him to the campus of Tennessee State University.
Upon “Papa Dee Dee’s” death “Jack” assumed the role as the patriarch of the family, as even his mother referred to her oldest son as her “Rock of Gilbralter.” Wisdom Jr. was not only looked up to by his wife, children, grandson, and entire family, to the city of Nashville he was revered. Aside from his son who founded The Edward H. Wisdom Jr. Foundation, other spokesmen and supporters who have promoted the vision of Ed Wisdom Jr. include Criminal Court Clerk Howard C. Gentry Jr., Chairman of R.H. Boyd Publishing T.B. Boyd III, Pastor and Author Jerry L. Maynard II, Pastor and Councilman Harold Love Jr., Pastor Breonus Mitchell, Judge Rachel L. Bell, Principal Robert Churchwell Jr. of the Robert Churchwell Sr. Family, and businessman and motivational speaker Chin Nwani.
Visit The Edward H. Wisdom Jr. Foundation for more information.