Margaret Byrd Jones
Margaret Byrd Jones is my mother and inspiration. She is the fourth of seventeen children born to John and Elizabeth Byrd. She was born in 1932 and reared in Haines City, FL until the family relocated to Monticello, FL in 1940.
She gave birth to five children and was married to my father for 21 years until their divorce in 1977 (2 years after my birth). I was reared in a single parent household and experienced a slightly different mother from that of my other siblings. Although my mother faced overwhelming financial and emotional challenges, I never missed the love and guidance needed to help develop me into the woman I am today.
My mother could have used many excuses as to why she could not be an effective parent, but she didn’t. God and her children were first and second in her life respectively, Margaret was a distant third. I’m sure my mother had desires of companionship (as many women do), but motherhood was more important. She was the father and mother in our household and struggled to keep the bills paid, food on the table, and her children focused. My father was nonexistent in my life but she encouraged all of her children to remain connected to him in spite of their personal decision to opt for a divorce. I NEVER heard a negative word spoken about my father. That’s a special thing considering my mother never received financial support and my father vanished from our lives. After 34 years I still don’t know what kept her afloat: faith, inner strength, a desire to survive, or divine favor. Whatever “it” was “it” worked.
I cannot give my mother all of the credit with rearing me and my siblings. She had supportive brothers, sisters, and friends that understood her situation and helped whenever possible. The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” held true in our situation. We made it because our family unit and community cared about our growth and well-being. Hillary Rodham Clinton said in one of her speeches, “we are all responsible for ensuring that children are raised in a nation that doesn’t just talk about family values, but acts in ways that values families”. Thank You John and Lizzie Byrd (my grandparents)!!!!
My mother has a Master’s degree in Education from Florida A&M University and a Master’s of Science in Library Science degree from Atlanta University. She retired from Florida A&M University in 1999 as the Associate Director of Libraries after 36 years of service. She turned 77 yrs old in 2009 and I couldn’t think of a better way to say “Thank You” and “You Are Truly Appreciated” other than by creating a foundation that will allow me to give me back to a little girl all that was instilled in me.