Positive People

by  Editorial Assistant

Deidre Brewster

You can sense warmth and happiness from former Cabrini-Green resident Deidre Brewster, a wife and mother of three, when you first meet her. This lends her an air of straightforwardness that probably makes it easier her to be such a helpful person in her former community.

Former Cabrini resident Deidre Brewster. Photo by Crystal Medina

Deidre Brewster is a relocated resident of Cabrini Green waiting for more low income housing to be built. She is also an activist. What motivated her to fight for the residents in the first place was that she was concerned that Chicago was turning into a city for the rich.

“Before, there was racism; now there will be classism. I think there will come a time that Chicago will rent to the rich only. That’s dangerous,” she says.

Deidre has an authentic sign from back in the day, when there was segregation. She purchased it from a little store down South. It reads:


At first, it offended her. Then she realized that she could sit back and complain about it or she could do something about it.

“I believe in making things happen,” she says.

She’s taken this sign to many meetings as a reminder to not let history repeat itself. Needless to say, she has also raised many eyebrows.

Brewster believes you have to stand up, speak out, don’t be moved and stand united. Through her activism, she helps organize meetings so that the residents of Cabrini-Green can speak out about what is going on in their development. She sometimes helps expose stuff to the press, like for instance, recent problems with the heat in the buildings in the family high-rise development [see story, this issue, page 5). They had none. She says if they (the residents and her) hadn’t gone to the press, it probably wouldn’t had been known.

Through her awareness of different organizations, she refers residents to job training such as learning construction and carpentry and computer training.

“Success will be up to the individual: I can lead the horse to water but I can’t make him drink,” Brewster says.

“Most people do take full advantage of the opportunities being given to them,” she adds.

Brewster says the residents she grew up with are the people who taught her what it meant to be a good neighbor and the true meaning of what a community was.

“This will always be my community, no matter where I decide to sleep,” she says.

When asked if she had any advice for the residents of public housing she said, “Homelessness has no color, no class; it could be us today, and the so called well-off person tomorrow. Let’s just remember not to forsake the poor.”

Javon Jackson
At only seventeen years old, Javon Jackson is a very busy young man. This articulate student attends Jean Baptiste Point DuSable High School. He is head of the student council, the Local School Council student representative, chairperson on the student advisory board and the former student board member of the Chicago Board of Education.

Positive youth Javon Jackson Photo by Crystal Medina

“I try to remain a strong asset to other young folks because I feel we are going to carry on the rest of this world,” Javon said.

Not only is he very involved in school but holds a job at a roofing and construction company as a labor worker. Last, but certainly not least, he is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel.

“I was sitting in school one day, [last year] it was about 1:30 p.m., and I heard the voice of the Lord say, ‘It’s your time.’ I said, ‘Lord, if it is you, say it again.’ and I heard ‘It’s your time.’ I talked to my minister and he put me through training,” Javon explained. He now preaches at a non-denominational church on the South Side.

Sadly, his father passed away last year, and now he lives with his grandparents who have raised the majority of his 14 siblings – nine brothers and five sisters. His grandparents have been his role models, along with Dr. Gloria Archbold, former principal of DuSable High School, and the current principal, Carol Briggs.

“She…does everything for the children,” Javon said in describing Principal Briggs.

He has referred to Zenobia Johnson-Black, Executive Director of the Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center, as a mother figure.

“When you find a young man as talented, committed, moral and focused as Javon, it’s up to our community to embrace him, protect him and promote him. I hope I can play a positive role in his development,” Johnson-Black said.

Javon loves computers. He is into graphics and design technology. He wants to be a medical doctor. His lifelong dream is to earn a doctorate degree (in anything) before the age of 26.

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