Rosa Brooks was born on February 24, 1923 in a small town in Georgia. She attended a high school called Cook County Training School. Rosa has six siblings and she is the second to last child. Rosa was around during the times of segregation which meant she had to walk three miles to school every day with books on her head so her hands could stay warm.
When she was in her teens, Rosa’s favorite memory was being active in sports such as basketball and track. She won many awards but unfortunately, she had a huge fire so her pictures and other objects were destroyed. This happened approximately 50 years ago. Her first boyfriend was when she was a freshman in high school.
Rosa worked for the board of education and just quit her job on April 1st, 2017 at age 93. She only recently stopped driving. Her church threw her a big surprise party on her 94th birthday. It was a bash and she was shocked and knew nothing about it. Rosa hopes to leave an impact on this block and she already definitely has. Everyone calls her Mother Brooks, or “the best dressed on the block”.
Rosa told me how African Americans had to use the bathroom on the outside in a porta potty and white men would put white handkerchiefs on black women faces. She never paid any mind to these rules and regulations. She fought often and didn’t let anyone down talk her: “If they called me black, that was their death wish”. Rosa gained confidence and eventually, she learned not to take anything personally. She would joke around with her father and say “the KKK gonna wanna beat you up” due to the fact that white women loved him.
Rosa’s mother could not read or write but she grew vegetables and grew things on trees like peaches and apples. Her mother canned food so the only reason why they would go to the store was for flour. Her family had enough of food to go around and could eat as much as they wanted. Meanwhile, she was aware that other families struggled.
Rosa’s older brother always said, “ Papa why you always beating on the baby all the time?”. Rosa’s father hit her, but one day she hit him back and told him to never hit her again. Rosa never thought to run away because she had no money or anywhere to go. When Rosa got her first job her father made her pay for her little sister’s white and blue uniform. The advice Rosa would give her younger self would be to be more patient because she didn’t like that she couldn’t have a say in certain situations.
Rosa didn’t achieve her dream career of being a nurse. Instead, she got pregnant at 17. Rosa told her coach she had a headache and her coach told her that she was pregnant. She got married in secret at the courthouse and her mother did not find out she was married until four or five months later. Rosa gave birth at 18, left her parents and moved in with her first husband, a man from Georgia. Eventually, Rosa left her first husband and moved to New York and got married again. She’s now a widow with a big family. Rosa has 12 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren. One of her children’s favorite relatives is their Aunt Doris.
Rosa loves Easter she loves to curl her hair and wear pretty dresses. The churches would have many Easter activities. Rosa never smoked or drank. She tried smoking, but she didn’t like the smell or taste of it. Rosa went to court for drugs that police say they found in her house, but the judge dismissed the case because no evidence was found. Throughout Rosa’s 94 years of living, she has never been called a nasty name by anyone except for a police officer and she slapped him.
Rosa isn't so sure what she wants to be remembered for, but she does have a good relationship with her kids. Rosa’s kids adore her and they never disrespected her Rosa’s nickname for her second daughter is Momma because she looks after her the most. She calls her all the time and makes sure she takes her medicine and follows up on appointments. Rosa also has a special relationship with her youngest daughter who tucks Rosa in bed and makes sure her feet are covered. People who know Rosa think that she and her daughters can pass for sisters.
A lot of people motivate Rosa to move forward. Rosa’s kids adore her and they never disrespected her. Rosa doesn’t envy anybody. She is a very religious person she practices Christianity. Rosa’s daughter is the president of the choir at her church. Rosa said when she passes away she would like her daughter to sing “ I Talked To God Last Night”.
Throughout Rosa’s life, she had two husbands who both treated her well. She says was more like a housewife rather than a regular working wife. Keeps herself busy at the age of 94,” I don’t wanna think about what life could be: I just want to live it”.
Rosa’s brother lived in 265 -- which is located across the street-- and she moved in with him in 1933. Back in the days, 114 used to have a food bank. The block 114 has been renovated two times within 15 years. Rosa was the person who gave you the OK to move into your apartment. She was disappointed about the move from across the street because she had to get rid of her old furniture to get new furniture. The only advantage Rosa said she has is the elevators and the heating/cooling system.
Rosa nominated Robertus Coleman for president 25 years ago and he still is the president.
Rosa says: “I look in the mirror and I don’t see anything special about me”. We all disagree.