Checking in With Roderick T. Sawyer and the Chatham Neighborhood



Roderick T. Sawyer is the 6th Ward alderman for the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Sawyer has resided in this neighborhood for all of his 50 years. His interest in politics was, in part, sparked by his father, the late Eugene Sawyer, who served previously as the 6th Ward alderman and the Mayor of Chicago.

The younger Alderman Sawyer learned the meaning of investing in his community at an early age. This led him to strive to become the 6th Ward alderman. As he puts it, “politics was originally a lifelong obsession. I grew up in politics all of my life and have done community work and been in the community for a long time I went to law school and then went into politics myself.”

There are many ways that Chatham residents can become involved in the community. Some of the organizations that are available to join: The Chatham Avalon Community Association, the Greater Chatham Alliance, Reunite Chatham, Chatham Business Association, and the Chatham Initiative for members and small business owners.

One community group, in particular, the Greater Chatham Alliance allows for the residents to have input on the future changes within the community. They meet one Saturday each month and discuss issues as little as potholes on the streets to as big as crime.

A new organization in the community is the Chatham BoomBox, located at 79th Street and Rhodes. It is a resource for small businesses. If they are considering opening a business in the neighborhood, they can utilize the organization’s services and rent a space by the day, week, or month.

This service will allow the community to be able to gauge whether or not the business would be an asset to the community. The BoomBox will serve as a startup location for the local businesses if they are not ready to become established at a permanent location.

It will be a place for trial and error, which Sawyer describes as being more beneficial to the community because it lowers the risk of business failure.

To get the word out about changes within the community such as this one. Sawyer states, “we send out quarterly news bulletins, and flyers using the text messaging service and through the website”

There is a way for everyone in the community to get the latest information. If residents have other ideas for receiving information, the alderman’s office is open to taking suggestions.

His office also serves as a place for youth to learn about possible employment in addition to opportunities to be involved in politics and other initiatives.

“The youth can come into the office on 700 East 79th St. to obtain flyers about job openings, be added to the open job list, and become involved with the young democrat’s program.”

Written by Alexandria Martin
Edited by Cathy Milne


Interview: Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer on October 10, 2017
Coalition of African American Leaders: Roderick T. Sawyer-6th ward alderman

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


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