The late Robert Eades was one of those rare brothers whose simulacrum wasn’t what you saw.
He was an outspoken advocate for the dispossessed and the oppressed. His humanity was all-encompassing. When he spoke, he spoke from his very soul.
If he was your friend you knew it. He had so many friends and admirers when he came down with the coronavirus so many people prayed that he would survive, he didn’t.
When his death was announced it went through the community like a wildfire.
When the Capital reported his death online the story was shared hundreds of times. Each time it was shared, there were tears.
There was so much about Robert Eades that people didn’t know. He was a Republican. He ran for public office. He was a “foot soldier”.
He was a man of his word. He was my friend, my ally and a great father.
He adored his daughter London. Oh, how he loved his little girl. She was the apple of his eye.
She was daddy’s little girl. I have seen Robert over the years in many different and difficult challenges.
The happiest I have ever seen him was when he won an award.
Over the years he had received many awards.
The Malcolm X Award, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Maker Award, commendations from the City of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, and the State of Maryland.
Yet, the award that made him the happiest was an award that he received from his church-First Baptist Church. It was their “Father of the Year Award.” He told me that it was an award that he most treasured. If you knew Robert Eades you knew why. His love for his daughter was self-evident.
If you ever saw him walk her to the school bus stop or pick her from there it was pure love.
He took her everywhere. He took her on protest marches, City Hall, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinners. He loved his daughter and the truth is he also loved children.
Robert wanted for them the best. He was instrumental and successful in so many grassroots campaigns.
He worked relentlessly against the Housing Authority for the City of Annapolis attempts to bring the controversial Hope 6 program to Annapolis.
Hope 6, which displaced people all over the nation and disrupted communities. He fought it coming to Annapolis and won.
He was part of the ACLU and NAACP’s Gerald Stansbury efforts to prevent the City of Annapolis from adopting a controversial anti-loitering ordinance aimed at African-American communities.
Over the years he developed a reputation as a gadfly. He gave those in power a tongue lashing that many never forgot. He spoke truth to power.
Whether it was calling on the disgraced Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold to resign, which he did, or showing up at City Hall. His ire was never partisan, it was righteous.
He would appear before the Annapolis City Council and whether the Mayor was Josh Cohen or Michael Pantelides he didn’t hesitate to let them know what he thought on any given issue.
He could be equally critical of other community activists if he thought that they were selling out Black people.
I am going to miss Robert Eades.
Like the late Bertina Nick, he never held a public office, but, he was greatly admired by many.
You didn’t have to agree with Robert to appreciate his voice, passion, and dedication to causes greater than himself.
Those of us who called him a friend will sorely miss him. I have so many memories of Robert Eades, however, there is one that I want to share. It speaks to his leadership and foresight.
Long before the world had heard of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, or Freddie Gray, Robert Eades was leading a demonstration in 1996 against alleged police misconduct.
An Annapolis police officer fatally shot Cochise Daughtry, a resident of Robinwood.
Robert organized hundreds of people who marched from Robinwood on Forest Drive to the First Baptist Church in Annapolis on West Washington Street.
The residents of Robinwood an enclave of 150 families found in him their champion.
Long before the world heard the phrase “Black Lives Matter”, Robert Eades the community activist was marching and demanding that our youth be respected and protected.
What made Robert different from so many African-Americans was his willingness to speak truth to power.
His willingness to stand up when others would back up. His willingness to speak up when others would shut up. His willingness to stand up and be heard.
His courage was only superseded by his conviction that everyone had a right to life. He used every tool that he had to express himself.
On Monday he stopped breathing. Our city and community were stunned. That voice that would bellow at City Hall had gone silent.
Yet, his spirit lives on. Take a close look at the photo that accompanies this tribute to Robert. Look at the people that he is leading.
They are dispossessed and oppressed. They are the people he struggled for and they are the people that will miss him the most.
Some of us are crying and some of us are wishing that we had an opportunity to say goodbye. We didn’t.
Due to the pandemic, his friends and admirers couldn’t visit him. He had so many friends.
On this day, at this moment, I am reminded of what the late Reverend Leroy Bowman told me many years ago.
Reverend Bowman said that crying and praying are both important.
“Crying” is God’s way of letting us know that we are human, Reverend Bowman said.
“Praying” he added is our way of letting God know, that we know that He is in charge.
God called Robert home yesterday. God decided that it was time for him to come home.
No more pain. No more restless nights. No more bills, no more late calls, no more taxi-rides, no more pain.
I will miss him greatly. He was my friend through thick and thin. Oppressed people have lost a great champion.
His voice will not be replicated but it will be emulated. He will be remembered as a man who spoke from his heart. Today, many of us are heartbroken.
He now belongs to the ages and the angels. I will always remember his laughter that came from his soul. I will always remember the smile that he showed.
The gentleman with the big heart. A heart like a clock that has now stopped ticking. Rest in Peace. Gone but not forgotten.
Carl Snowden and Associates were founded in 1985. It is a private consulting firm that specializes in addressing bias and institutional racism. Its founder Carl Snowden and the company have been featured in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the Baltimore Sun. The company working with the ACLU in Maryland have won cases involving voting rights, employment discrimination and sexual harassment.