Edwin Jonah III was born in Harlem, NY to parents Mariette and Edwin Jonah II. Growing up in the 1970s, it was a racially tense atmosphere. His father, Edwin Jonah II was a very proud member of the Black Liberation Army and instilled in his young son the same morals he held true. Growing up, Edwin admired his father more than anyone. He admired his bravery and strength, something that he believed he did not personally have. Edwin was quite timid growing up and was often picked on for his desire to keep his head in the books. His small stature and small build would only worsen his being bullied. Despite often being bullied by people that shared the same skin color as him, he held on to his strong belief of black power and liberation, something that would carry on as an interest of his into his adulthood. He was the first of three children. Following him were his two younger sisters, Alia and Garnet.
Edwin grew up with an extreme interest in the world around him, dabbling in the natural sciences. Evolution was an extreme interest of his that would lead to his passion for genetics. He received a scholarship to attend a school in Manhattan, one of three students of color to enroll as a 5th grader. Edwin would excel in all of his courses but show extreme promise in his science courses.
Riots of 1973
In late April of 1973, while Edwin was attending school, his father traveled to South Jamaica Queens to lead a protest and organized riot against the NYPD for the death of Clifford Glover, a 10 year-old black boy who was killed by police. His father was said to have died while rioting against the police. The loss of his father would later have great psychological affects on young Edwin.
After his father's death and the school's knowledge of the family's ties with the Black Liberation Army, Edwin was dismissed from the academy. He would later attend a school in Brooklyn, NY, all the way across the city. The Black Liberation Army helped support Mariette and her three children after Edwin II's death.