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Harlem of the West Then and Now

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In collaboration with the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, Harlem of the West Then and Now chronicles the past and present of San Francisco natives who grew up in the city’s Fillmore District during the 1940s-1950s. The documentary short was filmed predominantly at Honey Arts Studio gallery show of Lewis Watts and Elizabeth Pepin’s archival collection of photographs from the era the film bridges then and now.

The Fillmore was once a thriving, vibrant, and multicultural community with one of the most prominent jazz scenes on the West Coast and hundreds of black-owned businesses. The neighborhood’s prosperity quickly came to an end as urban redevelopment tore through neighborhoods, pushing thousands of families and businesses out of the area. Despite this, hundreds of community activists today worked tirelessly to help reclaim the “Harlem of the West.” Today the neighborhood, with the investment from the Dream Keeper Initiative and the National Writing Project, is on the brink of a renaissance.

Project Team

Dr. Albert S. Broussard – Professor of History, Texas A&M University
Stephanie Sears – Associate Dean for Social Sciences and Associate Professor of Sociology, USF
Lewis Watts – Professor Emeritus of Art, UCSC

Al Williams – President of SFAA Historical and Cultural Society
Virginia Smyly – Historical Researcher, SFAAHCS board member
Shawna Sherman – SFAAHSC board member, SFPL African American Center

Sophie Constantinou – Director
Tamara Walker – Producer
Zoe Hertz – Associate Producer
Mike Shen – Editor
Sadiq Norris – Additional Camera
Caron Creighton – Additional Camera
Daejona Silva – Additional Camera
Gary Coates – Colorist
Sarah Scannell – Communications Associate
Dave Nelson – Sound Design



Posted on

January 31, 2024