Guest Column

Remembering Alfreda Brewster


As a Baby Boomer, I think of black history as a time when we celebrate the great figures in the African American culture such as Harriet Tubman and W.E.B. Dubois, and the thousand of others who made a difference with inventions, music, poetry, entertainment, sports, discoveries, and so on. But sometimes, history unfolds right before our eyes.

As I searched the archived records of Rockville Centre Housing Authority, Mrs. Alfreda Brewster surfaced at the very beginning of the construction as a strong activist in the development of the low-income housing complex. According to some of the original tenants, there were civil rights struggles. She led marches and interacted with the municipal government to make the needs of the poor blacks in the community visible.

Retirement was never an option for her. She served for many years on the Board of Commissioners of Rockville Centre Housing Authority and was instrumental in the $33 million redevelopment that was completed in 2009. She spearheaded and sat on the Screening Committee that helped determine who was awarded tenancy.

She was passionate about quality housing for low-income families. Titles and positions were not deterrents to her. She made her points in clear terminology.

In her obituary, her family wrote, “so when you heard her call out to you to keep off the grass or to pick up your litter, it was her demonstration of pride in the hard work she dedicated to Old Mill Court Housing development and her love for the community.”

Mrs. Brewster’s presence was great and she will be greatly missed. In my personal opinion, she made history with her stature, will, aggressive spirit, pride in her community and culture. They are all good examples for which others can follow.

Thank you Mrs. Brewster. You will always be remembered.

Alfreda Brewster died on Jan. 26. She was 83. Elaine Petry is the Resident Manager for the Rockville Centre Housing Authority.