Questions remain 10 years after Civil Rights pioneer gunned down in North Nashville

Unsolved Tennessee

On the tenth anniversary of his father’s death, Ed Wisdom III holds out hope that one day his family will see those responsible for his father’s death behind bars.  

Ed Wisdom Jr. was a pioneer for African American rights in Middle Tennessee. He was a veteran jumpmaster of the 82nd Parachute Battalion, which was an all-Black airborne unit of the United States Army. 

Wisdom went on to become the first African American to teach at Clarksville High School. He left to go to New Jersey where he and one other man would be the first African Americans to work for IBM’s top-secret security facility. 

“He started to really start paving the way back in the 60s in fields that a lot of times Black’s weren’t afforded,” his son Ed Wisdom III explained. “They were putting computers on space crafts and submarines.” 

Wisdom eventually came home to become the Director of Management Information Systems at Tennessee State University.  

For Wisdom III, years continue to pass without answers in his father’s murder. 

“For me, it’s like it happened yesterday. Even the conversation we’re having here, it’s just bringing so many flashes and visions of that particular day as if we’re living through it right now as I speak about it,” Wisdom III said. 

On October 28, 2011, Wisdom had visited his wife who was living at her sister’s house while recovering from a broken leg. After visiting his wife and going to the grocery store, Wisdom returned home and was gunned down while walking into his North Nashville home.  

“It was a small-caliber gun and so it didn’t give off much noise and so folks, if they heard it, probably didn’t think much was going on so nobody saw my father overnight and it was not until the morning when kids were catching the bus out in front of the house and folks were going to work that they saw my dad,” Wisdom III said. “In a nutshell, he spent the entire night there alone breathing his last breath.” 

Although Wisdom III tries to remember his father’s positive impact on the world, a decade without closure has been grueling. 

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my father, think about what happened to him,” Wisdom III said. “For the most part, I have learned to really kind of embrace how he lived his life as opposed to how he left this life. That’s where most of my thoughts are spent, but you can’t help but think about how a loved one who had such a profound impact on my life and our entire family’s life, as the patriarch of the Wisdom family, how he was deprived of many more days, weeks, months and years because of somebody else’s haphazard behavior.” 

Wisdom III tries his best to keep his father’s legacy alive. He started the Edward H. Wisdom Jr. Foundation, which offers mentoring to at-risk youth and other growth initiatives. In addition, a scholarship fund was started at Tennessee State University to honor his father’s 37-year career there.  

“Probably three or four weeks before that I was walking with another family who lost their loved one, never imagining that my family would be inflicted with the pain I view this family going through,” Wisdom III said. “As long as we leave certain individuals out there on the street, we’re all at risk.” 

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“You hear conversations about at-risk youth, conversations about at-risk communities, we’re all at risk. A bullet doesn’t target a certain demographic or a certain background or a certain education level, financial background. Every day on the news you see how lives have been impacted by criminal activity just as it was with my dad and our family,” Wisdom III said. “For those who have information I encourage them to share that information because you never know when it could be your loved one.” 

Anyone with information on Wisdom’s murder is asked to call Nashville Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME.  

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