Linwood DeBrew was born in Scotland Neck, North Carolina on February 3, 1943. As a young child, he moved to Newport News, where he lived in Newsome Park with his family. DeBrew attended Newsome Park Elementary School and George Washington Carver High School, where he graduated in 1962. He also completed coursework at Hampton Institute, Thomas Nelson Community College, Christopher Newport College, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. DeBrew has been especially active in the struggle for civil rights for much of his life. As a teenager, he joined the youth branch of the local NAACP in 1957. Later, he joined the SCLC in 1967 and was a co-founder of the Black Unity Congress (BUC) that was established that same year. Additionally, he helped to establish the Greater Southeast Development Corporation (GSDC) and the Jefferson Avenue Merchants Association (JAMA) in the 1970s.
-Interview and biographical information recorded in 2014.