This Juneteenth, we’re spotlighting Aston Gardens At Parkland Commons’ resident Violet Edwards who was recognized by the City of Parkland, FL, as a highly accomplished member of the community, proclaiming the date in her honor. Violet graduated from college at age 96, making her the oldest black woman to receive this distinction in the world, among many other accomplishments in her life.
Read TAPintoParkland’s feature article on Violet to learn more about her amazing life:
PARKLAND, FL – June 19 is just around the corner, and Parkland Mayor Rich Walker and the City Commission have officially proclaimed the date as Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery. In doing so, the mayor recognized Parkland resident Violet Edwards, a highly accomplished member of the community, proclaiming the date in her honor.
“As Violet Edwards, her ancestors and her descendants embody the definition of vision, hope and generational fortitude, the city of Parkland celebrates Ms. Edwards and all that her legacy represents for not only her family, but also the entire city of Parkland,” Mayor Richard Walker said at the city commission meeting on June 7.
Edwards, born in Kingston, Jamaica, was the first person from her hometown to attend high school, doing so on a full academic scholarship. Unfortunately, following this monumental achievement, the pursuance of higher education was not an option as financial struggles prevented it.
Therefore, Edwards set out to find a job, never wanting to struggle as she had as a child. Initially, she served a few semesters as a teacher. Edwards ultimately decided that if she was to have a career, it would need to be something that she was trained in; a resolution that led her to a career as a telegraph operator.
Joining the Jamaica Postal Service, Edwards underwent training, learning Morse Code in order to perform the tasks required of the job. Luckily, she excelled in this field and was continuously being promoted and commended throughout her time with the service. In fact, she was eventually granted the position of regional inspector, managing countless post offices and becoming the first female appointed for the role.
Having now accomplished so much in Jamaica, in 1973 Edwards made the difficult decision to move with her daughter to New York. There, she worked to support her daughter, assisting in the funding of her medical school education. Once Edwards was positive that her daughter was well, she moved back to Jamaica, with several more moves between the two places following this one. Nevertheless, all of this back and forth eventually led up to one final move to the United States, prompted by her daughter’s decision to adopt children, whom she wanted to be close to.
Sometime during this period, Edwards had decided to enroll in the College of New Rochelle, earning 84 credits before extenuating circumstances resulted in her leaving the school. Upon her decision to return many years later, however, Edwards was informed that the college sold out to Mercy College and that her hard-earned credits could not be transferred. This revelation compelled her to register with Mercy College, taking a grueling course that would allow her to earn a degree at last.
Still, there was one more obstacle in her way. Just two weeks before her final exam she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yet, she persevered and with the encouragement of her daughter and her own relentless dedication she graduated from college at 96, making her the fifth-oldest person in the world and the oldest black woman to do so.
This brief overview of Violet Edwards’ achievements do not even begin to scratch the surface of what she has overcome throughout her lifetime. From her hometown and the struggles that accompanied growing up in such a place during WWII, to her current status as an impressive Parkland resident, Edwards has been and will always be an inspiration to this community and the embodiment of resilience.