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Note: Free with museum admission—and it's always free for Daytime members (10 a.m.–5 p.m.), After Dark members (6–10 p.m.), and donors. Just bring your membership card and ID. The Tactile Dome is currently closed.
Welcome to the Neighborhood (2018, 26 min., 36 sec.) runs every half hour starting at 10:00 a.m. and also on Thursday evenings starting at 6:00 p.m.
This remarkable story of legendary Berkeley social activist Mable “Mama” Howard and her daughter, renowned artist Mildred Howard, illuminates the power of civic engagement while incorporating broader issues of gentrification. This documentary threads together a multiplicity of Bay Area stories centered on social and economic justice and examines the fragile nature of change over two generations.
Mable Howard came with her husband and children to San Francisco during World War II to work in the shipyards of Hunters Point. The family soon joined the growing community of African Americans in South Berkeley. Her landmark 1968 lawsuit against BART forced the transit agency to underground trains that traveled through South Berkeley so the economic stability and cultural diversity of the neighborhood could be preserved.
Called Mama Howard for nurturing many upcoming prominent civic leaders, she was a highly respected activist for women’s rights and racial justice. The film features interviews with Mildred Howard, Ron Dellums, Loni Hancock, Jeff Chang, Ying Lee, Carole Kennerly, Max Anderson, Roberta Brooks, Margy Wilkinson, and Onynex Johnson.
Mable Howard was also a beloved role model for her daughter, internationally recognized artist Mildred Howard, who 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 live in Berkeley. When her landlord raised her rent by 50%, Mildred came to terms with leaving the city that has been her home for nearly 70 years.
Mildred Howard once served as an artist, educator, and mentor at the Exploratorium, developing curriculum aimed at integrating art and science for elementary and middle school teachers.
Filmmaker Pam Uzzell, a graduate of Brown University with an MFA from California State University San Francisco, is an award-winning documentary producer, director, and editor with a deep interest in sharing inspirational stories. She is also the host of the Art Heals All Wounds podcast. Her feature-length documentary, Unearthing the Dream, won Best Documentary at the Arkansas Black Independent Film Festival as well as an Indie Award of Merit. Welcome to the Neighborhood has screened at film festivals, universities, community centers, and most recently at Fog Design + Art.
Photo of Mable and Mildred Howard © 1985 by Kathy Sloane.