The real Richmond: Sylvester Greenwood

Author Rodney “Alamo” Brown

In case you haven’t heard, Rodney “Alamo” Brown published a 104-page book in November highlighting the many positive characters who have colored Richmond’s history.

The book, “If My Eyes Could Rewind: The Real Richmond, California Story,” offers mini-accounts on the lives of 78 people. Brown said the idea for the collection came from his Facebook page, where he and friends had swapped tales about successful Richmond residents. The book presents a positive look on the city where Brown was raised.

In February, Brown received a proclamation from Richmond City Council for both authoring the book and for his involvement in violence prevention programs.

To contribute to the tradition of story sharing, the Richmond Standard will publish excerpts from Brown’s book every Tuesday for the next month. The first excerpt is about educator and former National Football League player Sylvester Greenwood.

Sylvester Greenwood

by Rodney “Alamo” Brown

Sylvester Greenwood was born Feb. 17, 1945, in Thebes, Arkansas, to Willie L. and Cloattee Greenwood. The family moved to Berkeley in 1946, then to Richmond in 1953. Greenwood attended Peres Elementary School and Roosevelt Junior High School and was graduated from Harry Ells High School in 1962. He met his future wife, Brenda Joyce Hurd, when she was a sophomore and he was a senior. They married in 1967.

He attended Contra Costa Community College and San Francisco State College and earned a football scholarship to Fresno State for the spring semester of 1965. In 1967, he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints. Upon leaving the NFL, he continued his education at San Francisco State. He received bachelor’s degrees in physical education and history in 1973. In 1978, he received a master’s in educational administration with an administrative credential.

Greenwood began his career with the school district, then known as Richmond Unified, in 1968 as security officer. He was a student teacher at Adams Junior School in Richmond and taught physical education and history at his alma mater, Harry Ells. His first administrative position was as dean of students at De Anza High School in Richmond. His other posts included principal of Kennedy High School in Richmond. He retired from the school district in 2006 as an assistant superintendent.

He was a member of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), past chair of the ACSA State Committee on Urban Affairs, a board member of the Richmond Police Activities League and the Richmond Unified Education Fund, board member and past president of the University of San Francisco Alumni Association, past director of the Richmond Exchange Club, past president of the Richmond Association of School Administrators, past president of the Board of Directors of the Richmond Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), and past chair of the Deacon Board and member of the Trustee Board at Berkeley Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

For more information about “If My Eyes Could Rewind: The Real Richmond, California Story,” or to purchase the book, visit