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Noticeable Acts of Neighborhood Heroism in Englewood

Black History is American History and we must honor our African American men who sometimes go unnoticed and often times remain anonymous though they make life changing impacts on residents.

It’s the kind of individuals who rallies for the entire neighborhood without an incentive but with a goal to improve the social and economic conditions of their community.

Pastor Jonathan Brooks (Englewood Hero)

The national media attention that Chicago’s Englewood community has received due to the influx of uncorrelated, misrepresented statics and poor news coverage would make anyone think it’s a “Nightmare on Elm Street”.  Englewood residents understand the misconception about their community. These residents know the assets that outweight the reports seen in mainstream media. “Many kids don’t see guys going to work and being a family man in the community. They don’t see it as being normal when they see me with my family. Most times these kids are just looking for someone to talk to. If I just reach one kid then I’m happy," says Antoine Butler Englewood resident.

In order to feel valuable you must see the value according to Butler. Many of our political figures and public servants in city hall are very aware of the value Englewood as seen with the upcoming addition of Whole Foods, the newly improved CTA trains and even the new Ashland-BRT (bus rapid transit).

The neighborhood heroes of Englewood are those who never gave up on the community and never felt that dreams were illegal in the hood (they call home). Like many others and myself, I’m consciousness of the economic and social frailties that exist in Englewood but also understand the value of bringing a voice to the people who may otherwise not have the means to a platform.

The heroes are everyday African American men who work against the status quo, who easily do what is needed in Englewood by combating the naysayers with the everyday work they do and refusing to be defined by stereotypes. "It’s not about being recognized for doing good things in the community but doing what’s needed in the community," says Darryl Smith, president of the Englewood Task Force. He adds it's easier to do the wrong things in life than there is to follow a righteous path.

To their family the 14 men of Englewood are known as husbands, fathers, sons, uncles, brothers and cousins. In the community they wear the titles of entrepreneurs, pastors, DJ, radio personality, journalists, working professionals, community activists, community organizers, political candidate hopefuls, techies, students, barbers, artists and founding members of community driven organizations.

As a long term resident myself, I am easily able to identify the Englewood Heroes as Pastor Jonathan Brooks, Antoine “DJ Dap” Butler, Demond Drummer, Issachar Humphrey, Shango Johnson, John Paul Jones, Sunni Ali Powell, Harold Lee Rush, Darryl Smith, Syron Smith, John Stallworth, Johnny Stallworth and Michael Tidmore and Rev. Joel Washington.

These are the type of heroes who don’t disappear after the bad press, the tragedy, disappointment but continue on the unending love they have for the community. They’re loyal contributors to the community, who have a deep-rooted investment in the community and undying love to continue to do what they do effortlessly. "There's greatness in the community and I'm proud to be able to have a clean, well respected and established barbershop that houses 8 barbers who have the opportunity to become financially stable," says Sunni Ali Powell.

Pastor Jonathan Brooks is Senior Pastor at Canaan Community Church in West Englewood and has taught elementary education and arts in Chicago for over a decade.  As a firm believer in investing in the community he grew up in, Jonathan has a deep desire to impress this virtue on the students and young people in his congregation, classroom and community. Noticeable Acts of Heroism: Canaan provides youth development, holistic health options, college scholarships, music lessons and continual support to families, living in Englewood, who have a loved one incarcerated.

Antoine Butler is not only a lifelong resident of Englewood but also is known as DJ Dap, the resident DJ of Englewood. He’s an entrepreneur, property owner, and co-founder of R.A.G.E. (Resident Association of Greater Englewood) where he focuses on youth, education, civic engagement and economic development. Noticeable acts of heroism: prior to his role with R.A.G.E., he was hosting other social youth empowering events like So Fresh Saturdays and Docs and Dialogue in Englewood with his wife. Docs and Dialogue presented documentaries or “shockumentaries” shown to the youth, which provoked open discussion free from the ears or scrutiny of adults.

Demond Drummer is often recognized by his role as the Englewood Tech Organizer at Teamwork Englewood, he’s also an Englewood resident and Co-Founder of R.A.G.E. Noticeable Acts of Heroism: Seeing the need for residents of all ages in Englewood to become knowledgeable and viable in the technology field. He’s taught classes on computer basics, internet basics and hosted weekly coding classes for students at D.S. Wentworth.  He developed Englewood Codes, a 10-week summer technology program that teaches students about basic web coding. With the help of the community he successfully met his goal and fund-raised $10,000 to help fund a portion of the program in the summer of 2013.

Issachar Humphrey is the youngest of the heroes. He's a high school junior, Englewood resident, artist, volunteer and R.A.G.E. Intern. Noticeable acts of heroism: Actively involved in Englewood by volunteering with different organizations in the community. He is often seen at various community driven events lending his time and efforts, including attending just about every R.A.G.E. event where he's lending a hand.

Shango Johnson: Englewood Resident, community activist, community affair specialist / Interrupter for Cease Fire Englewood Violence Prevention Program in Chicago, director of mentoring programs, a community activist and a Sunday school teacher. Noticeable acts of heroism: Outside of his work with Cease Fire he’s active in the community and constantly at the forefront of issues that impact the Englewood community. Johnson has dedicated his life and career to community organizing for peace, social change and mentoring the youth.

John Paul Jones is a long time Englewood resident and urban organizer activist. Mr. Jones is president of the Sustainable Englewood Initiatives (SEI) a grassroots advocacy group working to ensure public engagement over land use decision-making, promotion of green and healthy initiatives, poverty reduction, support and creation of public safety framework plan, environmental protection and the improvement/expansion of recreation. Noticeable Acts of Heroism: For more than 25 years he’s spent time working on projects like organizing campaigns to modernize the CTA Red Line, rebuilding the 95th street station and the extension the CTA Red line from 95th to 130th Street and through its core team redline oversight and developed an environmental protection campaign due to Norfolk Southern rail road expansion.

Sunni Ali Powell is an entrepreneur, assistant director for DGA and IASTE, owner and master barber of Powell’s Barber Shop and resident of West Englewood. He's a mentor to many Englewood youth and is actively involved in the community by hosting annual community clean ups every April, provides free hair cuts during the back-to-school season. Noticeable Acts of Heroism: Employs 8 licensed barbersutilizes his shop to host community meetings, job fairs, speaker series and was a part of the male mentoring group known as “From Boys To Men” at Woods Elementary for four years.

Harold Lee Rush is the golden voice you hear every Tuesdays and Fridays from 10am-2pm on WKKC 89.3 FMm and before that he’s been heard on several Chicago stations including WGCI 107.5 FM and WVON 1690 AM. He is not only radio a personality, he’s a Englewood native, a journalist and always disseminating key knowledge to the community via the airwaves and online through social media. Noticeable Acts of Heroism: Rush mentors high school students through through the WKKC-7th District Police Radio internship. His community service has been recognized and honored by many organizations including Outstanding Young Men of America (1983 and 1986), UNCF Distinguished Leader Award (1987), Malcolm X College (Honorary Degree 1984), and Chicago Board of Education.

John and Johnny Stallworth-father and son and owners of John Hardware and Bicycle Shop for more than 40 years in Englewood. They’re natives of Englewood who continue to provide reliable service and resources to the community. Noticeableacts of heroism: Remaining loyal to the Englewood community by sustaining a family owned business that educates their customers on basic home repair, construction, plumbing and other maintenance concerns.

Darryl Smith is a politically savvy individual who has been serving his Englewood community for several decades. He wears several hats in the community ranging from entrepreneur, community activist, president of the Englewood Political Task Force, 2006 and 2008 State Senate Representative Hopeful, long time resident and a seasoned volunteer with the PEACE Center. Noticeable acts of heroism: According to, in 2006 Darryl was 412 votes from becoming State Representative of the 6th district. According to Smith he's helped to secure some 850 jobs in the construction industry putting approximately $40 million dollars back in the Englewood community.

Syron Smith is an Englewood native whose roots in Englewood dates back several decades. Smith considers himself a public and human servant. He’s the founder of The National Block Club University and chairman of the Block of Better Government. Noticeable acts of heroism: Smith has spent the last 20 years working in different communities in Chicago to improve economical and social conditions. When he’s not working his 9-5, Smith spends his time mentoring teens by teaching them that education is one way to end the cycle of violence in the community and that education can lead to economic prosperity. He shares important information with the community that include reports on how much money is spent in each zip codes in various sales categories to the performance ratings of alderman in the community. 

Michael Tidmore is best known for his role as the African-American Male Program coordinator at Teamwork Englewood for the past seven years. Tidmore is a volunteer at the PEACE Center, founding member of the Englewood Political Task Force, Englewood native, male mentor and writer. He’s spent years leading group workshops and program activities on issues of academic support, anti-gun violence, conflict resolution, restorative justice, college tours, community development and civil engagement. Noticeable acts of heroism: Mentoring hundreds of young men from schools in the community and keeping everlasting relationship with his mentees.

Reverend Joel Washington (Khunanpu Sangoma) is an ordained minister originally from New York and currently resides in Englewood.  Rev. Washington is a long time activist dating back to the Civil Rights movement, a movement in which he feels is still relevant today. Rev. Washington is a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lead Pastor of Reformation Evangelical Lutheran Church-“The Vanguard African Descent Ministries Congregation-” in the historic Roseland-Pullman community. Noticeable acts of heroism: Washington (Sangoma) is known in the community at Bethel Terrace, for his weekly African-Centered Bible Study Ministry, as the unofficial “pastor” of the distinctive African American elders housing co-op. Rev. Washington uses his ministries not to preach to his fellow residents instead urges them to become more vocal and proactive about the issues that impact their community. 

There are hundreds of men in the Englewood who can be considered as Englewood Heroes, however I highlighted these men who I see consistently doing good deeds in the community. I see these 14 men as heroes who do not seek the spotlight but men whom the Englewood community need and could not do with out.


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Keywords: African American Men, Antoine “DJ Dap” Butler, Black History Month, Black men in Englewood, Chicago, Darryl Smith, Demond Drummer, Englewood, Englewood Community Leaders, Englewood Heroes, Englewood Portal, Harold Lee Rush, John Paul Jones, John Stallworth, Johnny Stallworth and Michael Tidmore, Male Leaders, Male Mentors, Pastor Joel Washington, Pastor Jonathan Brooks, Rashanah Baldwin, Shango Johnson, Sunni Ali Powell

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