May 17, 2022

Eddie Copeland-Neighbors

Eddie was born in Gloster, Mississippi on May 14, 1929. She was the seventh child to Smiley and Ellarena Anderson. She worked her way through college to earn a B.A. degree from Mississippi Industrial College. Following her graduation, she moved to Milwaukee to live with her sister Jessie. In Milwaukee, Eddie became an assistant buyer for a department store. It was at this department store that she met and eventually married Melvin Copeland, a probation officer. Eddie and Melvin had their first child, Robin, while living in Milwaukee, and then they had Marsha when they moved to Cincinnati. Soon after Marsha’s birth, Eddie and Melvin divorced. Eddie took her small children, Robin 5 and Marsha 16 months to Sacramento, California for family support. Eddie found work at Bruner’s furniture store and began to study for the Sacramento County Social Worker’s exam. Soon after taking the county exam, she began working for the Sacramento County Welfare Department as a social worker. It was during her career at the welfare department that Eddie began her commitment to improving the community. Eddie lobbied to have a section of the public works exam be eliminated. She designed a social service cultural awareness program for the Sacramento County Welfare Department. This program later became the model for the Affirmative Action program in Sacramento County. In 1974, Eddie married William Nesbit and later divorced. As Eddie became older and her children began looking for part-time work in the community, she realized the injustices that she faced when growing up were now being experienced by her children. She was instrumental in getting her children as well as other young black youth employment at local retail stores in the community. Eddie was always a dynamic and persuasive communicator. In fact, she was a member of the Sacramento Chapter of Toastmasters. She started a Saturday program for youth to help build self-esteem and to help build more effective communication skills for black youth. Eddie believed in using every minute of your life to its fullest. When Marsha was taking piano lessons, Eddie would drive the twenty miles to her lessons, wait over an hour each week at an A&W hamburger restaurant. Eddie would take that time to study for the real estate exam. When it came time to pass the test, she passed on her first attempt. She later worked part-time at Century 21 as a real estate agent. But she discovered sitting at homes waiting for a buyer, wasn’t what she wanted to do. However, she discovered an interest in buying and selling real estate. In 1990 Eddie married Otis Neighbors. Soon after their marriage she retired from the welfare department. When she retired, she babysat for her granddaughter, Jessica. During her retirement, Eddie implemented a program designed to give affirmative accolades to older individuals. She implemented the program after witnessing the loss of loved ones and friends. Eddie believed that people sometimes are not aware of the love that their loved ones have for them. This program enabled people to have a forum to cheer their loved ones and express their feelings toward them while they were still present on this earth. The program became the model for her Eagle Awards initiative. Eddie started the Eagle program to recognize an individual who has overcome adversities in their life by walking in faith and not giving up. These individuals have lifted their wings and soared like an eagle. Eddie always exerted her opinion whenever she witnessed injustices. When not writing letters to Congress people, celebrities and other influential people about issues she was passionate about, Eddie spent her time taking morning walks, and tending to her garden. Proceeding Eddie in death are sisters Jessie Woody, Louise Hall and brothers Sylvester, Lawrence, Limmie, Napoleon, Reo and Chester Anderson. Eddie is survived by her sister Nettie Anderson, Gloster MS; and daughters, Robin Jackson and Marsha Josiah, son-in-laws Demetri Jackson and Claude-Elton Josiah, and her grandchildren, Jessica Mariama and Julien-Francis Josiah, and her nieces and nephews.

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