Art classes try to bridge Chicago's segregated Sedgwick Street

Neighbors use art to bridge gap between communities

Chicago -- Sedgwick Street in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood appears to divide two worlds. On the West Side, a subsidized housing complex called Marshall Field Gardens, home to mostly black residents. And to the east, condos and million-dollar homes, where mostly white residents live.

Adell Thomas has lived in the housing for decades.
 
"It's segregation. It's what it is," Thomas said. "They're in their own world. We're over here in our own world."

"I've heard people say, 'oh I don't like my kids to walk down Sedgwick Street," said Charlie Branda, who lives on the East Side, but often looked across the way to the west.  

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CBS News

"People over here seemed to be really friendly with each other, and they were hugging each other and, like everybody was everybody's aunt," Branda said. 

 After a deadly shooting in 2013, Branda decided this community needed unity. So she enlisted Thomas and built a bridge -- with art.
 
Now weekly drawing classes attract dozens of kids who were once strangers.
 
Their exhibits celebrate diversity. One student said he enjoys meeting new people "because I can learn things from them." 

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Students in the art class meant to bridge Sedgwick Street.  CBS News

Branda said he "definitely" sees more white people walking on the west side of the street. 

 "I see a change now," Thomas said. 
 
Every interaction counts -- including their own.
 
"There was an incident on my street, and Adell texted me to make sure I was okay," Branda said. "I was so happy, I was like, 'yay I have a neighbor who loves me.'" 

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Charlie Brande, Adell Thomas CBS News

They agree there's now a real partnership. 

"We're friends," Branda laughs. "It took her a while to say that. She's like we're really more like professional colleagues. I was like, I view you as a friend."
 
Meeting in the middle -- on Sedgwick Street.