April Walker is an inspiration, if ever there was one.
The 39-year-old Miami native is the youngest of three siblings and has five children of her own. Walker has four boys, and one girl who range in age from 12 to 25 years old.
Walker serves as a custodian with building services at FAMU and currently cleans for Gibbs Hall.
Sarah Jackson, a senior custodian who has been working at FAMU for 20 years, said she can always count on Walker to keep things alive at work and can definitely keep everyone laughing.
“She is a very good worker. A very friendly worker. She’s good at her job. They are talking about making some changes, and I have already asked them to not move Ms. April from me, because I enjoy working with her,” she said.
After being approved for free housing and then discovering the cleaning job at FAMU through an agency named People Ready, Walker initially had intentions on only being in Tallahassee for a year. Everyone and everything she has ever known and loved is located in Miami. But her plans of returning home to Miami took a sharp turn when Walker’s son was shot and killed — a death that shocked the entire community.
“I thought I just had them so protected, and that’s what it was. You don’t expect it to happen — not to him,” she said.
His name was Cedric Rolle and he had just turned 19 years old on April 12, 2019. He died on May 7.
Walker has been homeless on different occasions, getting incarcerated, and temporarily lost custody of her children to the Department of Children and Families. She said her relationship with Cedric was unmatched.
Walker’s eyes filled with tears as she reflected back on the night that she received the phone call from her 22-year-old son and the brother of Cedric who was with him when the events took place. “As soon as I answered the phone, I knew something was wrong. I felt it,” she said.
After losing a person she gave birth to, slept in cars with, and provided for by any means necessary regardless of her circumstances, one could only imagine how Walker is able to persevere in life without one of her heartbeats.
“Of course, it hurt. I can never get over it, so I had to find a way to get through it,” she said.
During her upbringing, things between Walker and her mother were not the greatest. When she passed in 1998, Walker said it it did not bother her because she hated her mother. Her mother battled with hard drugs during her pregnancy with Walker and throughout the course of her life. The relationship between the two created a similar dysfunction for the relationship that she shares with her 18-year-old daughter.
“I never had anyone tell me that they loved me. My mama ain’t ever tell me that — my mama was on drugs. For years it was like I built a wall until it was unbearable for me. It was unbearable for me because I didn’t know how to love my kids. I knew how to love my boys, but I didn’t know how to love my daughter,” Walker said.
This generational curse affected the way that she raised her sons versus her daughter, which caused a rift between them for a long time. “I didn’t know how to show her because I realized I had built this wall up so deep for women, that I didn’t even love me,” she said.
Despite all of these hardships, Walker continues to mend relationships with her loved ones and takes steps every day to become a better person. Most importantly, a better mother.
It is not hard for Walker to put a smile on someone’s face. No matter who you are, her spirit will always find a way to make you feel comfortable and welcomed.
“Ms. April is just a super cool person. It was so easy to become acquainted with her because she just has this energy in which you can’t help but be drawn to. We had a simple conversation one day while I was on the way to my room because she noticed that I was from Miami too, and now we speak every single day,” said a student and resident of Gibbs Hall, Antania Coney.
“I would see her cleaning the bathrooms and I would just look at her because she looked so familiar. After talking with her, I found out that I went to the same high school with her son that passed. I knew him! It’s like we created a bond just over that.”
Love and loss, happiness and sadness, pride and regret. Walker declares that she is finally content and does not see herself going anywhere anytime soon.