Monday April 16 2018 7:00 PM
New Parkway Theater

Brief Synopsis: When artist Mildred Howard, daughter of legendary Berkeley activist Mable Howard, loses her South Berkeley home due to soaring rental prices, it costs Berkeley a piece of its history and its legacy. This story of an African American family illuminates both personal power to create possibilities in adversity, and the broader issue of gentrification and a housing crisis that threatens a community’s diversity.

Synopsis: Welcome to the Neighborhood is a 26-minute documentary that follows the story of a Berkeley family, the Howards. Mable Howard, known to most as Mama Howard, came with her husband and children to San Francisco during World War II to work in the shipyards of Hunters Point. They soon joined the growing community of African Americans in South Berkeley. Prior to her death in 1994, Mable Howard spearheaded many significant political and community projects. Her lawsuit against BART in 1968 forced the transit agency to underground the trains that traveled through her neighborhood, preventing the division of the black and white sections of town by a set of tracks. Her daughter, Mildred Howard, an internationally renowned artist, grew up believing she could accomplish anything. Her work, which includes many public artworks in the Bay Area, reframes history to tell the stories of those who are overlooked. Today there is one thing that Mildred Howard cannot do—afford to continue living in Berkeley. When her landlord raises her rent by fifty percent, Howard comes to terms with leaving the city that has been her home for nearly seventy years.

Berkeley, like many urban areas in the United States, has been slow to react to a housing crisis that threatens the diversity of its communities. Welcome to the Neighborhood follows Mildred Howard’s story as one of the great losses to the city. Ultimately, she will survive the upheaval. The question is, will Berkeley? Nearly fifty years after Mable Howard’s lawsuit against BART, the Howard’s neighborhood has become one of the “hottest” areas for new home buyers due, in part, to its proximity to BART. Home and rental prices have soared beyond the means of most, including many African Americans still reeling from the 2008 financial meltdown. The response of many in South Berkeley has become increasingly fierce, resulting in grass-roots demands that the city prioritize affordable housing to prevent the further shrinking of the African American population in the city. Within this context, Welcome to the Neighborhood presents Mildred Howard’s journey as she comes to terms with leaving “The People’s Republic.” In her ability to create possibilities in the face of adversity, she is indeed her mother’s daughter.

Filmmaker Bio: Pamela Uzzell is an award-winning documentary producer, director and editor. Her feature-length documentary, Unearthing the Dream, featured on Arkansas Public Television as part of their independent producer series, won Best Documentary at the Arkansas Black Independent Film Festival, as well as an Indie Award of Merit. A graduate of Brown University, with an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University, Uzzell has also worked on over twenty feature films in post-production, including Godfather III, Terminator 2, and Dead Poets’ Society. Uzzell is a member of the Bay Area Video Coalition, The San Francisco Film Society, and The Deep East Art Collective.