Black History Month: Making History

Jeff Edwards, Director of Transportation Share

Feb 29, 2024  |  Web Administrator

City of Mar­i­on Trans­porta­tion Direc­tor Jeff Edwards is fol­low­ing in his father’s foot­steps in mak­ing history. 

My dad, Fred Edwards, was one of the first Black bus dri­vers for the ABC / Trail­ways / Grey­hound mass trans­porta­tion com­pa­nies ran out of Muncie, Indi­ana, back in the ear­ly 60s,” he explained. I remem­ber how hard it was for him to get that job.”

Jeff is also the nephew of the piv­otal Amer­i­can actor, James Edwards, who’s most famous role was Pri­vate Peter Moss in the 1949 film, Home of the Brave, in which he por­trayed a Black sol­dier expe­ri­enc­ing racial prej­u­dice while serv­ing in the South Pacif­ic dur­ing World War II. With a promi­nent back­ground in the U.S. Army as a first lieu­tenant, he also por­trayed African Amer­i­can sol­diers in oth­er films includ­ing The Steel Hel­met, Bat­tle Hymn, and Men in War. It was believed he was going to be cast in Universal’s Red Ball Express, but was replaced by Sid­ney Poiti­er when he refused to tes­ti­fy before the House Un-Amer­i­can Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee. James Edwards is also known for his role in The Killing, The Manchuri­an Can­di­date, and on TV star­ring in Peter Gunn, The Fugi­tive, Man­nix, and more.

James was Fred Edward’s eldest brother.

Before tak­ing on the lead­er­ship role for the City of Mar­i­on in 2017, Jeff Edwards worked sev­en years at the Grant Coun­ty Juve­nile Deten­tion Cen­ter, first as an offi­cer, then cor­po­ral. I real­ized I was a leader because the young men and women would lis­ten to me. That was big. Then, I noticed oth­er employ­ees and offi­cers would regard me as a leader. Watch­ing and learn­ing from Bren­da Cham­bers, the Lt. at the time, was great for me. She was a great example.”

Since day one with the City, Edwards has been tak­ing his role very seri­ous­ly. Just as I work for and rep­re­sent my fam­i­ly, the same goes for work­ing for the cit­i­zens of Mar­i­on. My effort is a reflec­tion on the city, so I have my whole heart in it.” 

Edwards is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence every day in serv­ing the pub­lic at a high lev­el. We’ve served so many walks of life…helping them reach their next med­ical appoint­ment, going to vis­it a loved one, or just get­ting to the store for food. If you think about it, we play a big role in main­tain­ing the health and well­ness of our cit­i­zens. If we didn’t pro­vide this long­time free and reli­able ser­vice, we would pos­si­bly even see crime go up if cit­i­zens resort­ed to des­per­ate measures.”

Edwards cit­ed his first inspi­ra­tion for his suc­cess and his over­all life. God first. But also, my wife, Lisa, and my kids, Damion, Aaron, Ryan, and Jeff, Jr. I have eleven grand­kids, and one on the way. I have one son, Aaron, who served in the Army, who made an impres­sion on me. Once, when he was try­ing to get a tech­ni­cal­ly chal­leng­ing job with­in the mil­i­tary, he said, If this per­son who is leav­ing can do it, then I can do it.’ He end­ed up get­ting the job. I nev­er for­got that. A lot of the time, we’re scared of change or advance­ment. But, he real­ly opened my eyes.”

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