Welcome to the Neighborhood
Welcome to the Neighborhood
The story of an artist, an activist, and a community's fight to save itself in the Bay Area housing crisis.
photo courtesy of Kathy Sloane

photo courtesy of Kathy Sloane

The pioneering African Americans of the Great Migration reshaped the culture of cities across the United States. Nowhere is this more true than in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now the destructive forces of inequality and skyrocketing housing costs are dismantling these Black communities as more and more African Americans are pushed out of their homes, their neighborhoods, and the cities they helped build. Welcome to the Neighborhood is an inter-generational story of an artist, an activist, and a community’s fight to save itself in this crisis of upheaval. 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, became an internationally renowned artist. Her work, which includes many pieces of public art in the Bay Area, reframes history to tell the stories of those who are overlooked. Thanks to her mother’s example, Mildred grew up believing she could accomplish anything. 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 must come to terms with leaving the city that has been her home for nearly seventy years.  Even as her South Berkeley neighborhood fights back against the forces threatening their community, for this Bay Area city, another piece of its rich history and legacy is stripped away.

Donate To The Project