The Fight for Our Communities: Stories from Save Chinatown and Save UC Townhomes
- Creative Discussions
- 120 mins
Between the 1940s-1970s, cities across the United States entered a period of urban renewal, an attempt by local and federal governments to revitalize cities by rehabilitating “blighted” neighborhoods. Initially focused on improving housing, the urban renewal laws later expanded to include commercial and institutional developments making way for large-scale, destructive projects such as the Vine Street Expressway in Chinatown and the “redevelopment” of Black Bottom into University City. It is estimated that more than two thirds of those displaced in Philadelphia were people of color.
We will screen three films that feature stories from Chinatown and West Philadelphia, two neighborhoods that have been fighting inequitable development and displacement for decades. After the screening, our panelists will speak about their experiences as activists against gentrification and displacement and highlight the importance of solidarity across our communities in the fight to preserve our neighborhoods and culture.
Save Chinatown (1973) directed by Jon Wing Lum
This film was made by the Chinese community in Philadelphia to document and aid in the successful citizen effort to halt the Vine Street Expressway development project from cutting through Chinatown and demolishing the Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church and School.
Black Journal: Episode 4 (1968)
This section of Black Journal examines the university’s role in the slums of such cities as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The film cites the misuse of urban renewal and eminent domain by some universities in the process of their expansion. Community leaders, affected slum dwellers, and representatives of the University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago are interviewed.
Save UC Townhomes (work in progress)
This film documents the journey of residents of the public housing complex, UC Townhomes, and their fights against the University of Pennsylvania as they try to save their homes after they are served eviction papers in . The film is not yet complete.
Caroline Aung is a neighborhood planner at the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), where she helps manage the organization’s community planning and development projects. Before working at PCDC, she worked primarily in public health settings focused on addressing racial health inequities. She has a BA in Anthropology from Stanford University and a MS in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics.
Wei Chen is a lifelong advocate for Asian community empowerment. He is currently the Civic Engagement Coordinator at Asian Americans United where he runs the Chinatown Vote project. Wei is the co-founder of the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, the first-ever 501c4 political organization directly advocating for the needs of Asian Pacific Islanders in Pennsylvania. He serves as the Vice-chair of the board of Victim Witness Services of South Philadelphia and the Chairperson of Governor’s Advisory Commission on AAPI Affairs.
Darlene Foreman is a born and raised Philadelphian and a member of the UC Townhomes Resident Council. She lived at the Townhomes for 29 years. There, she raised 3 children who are all grown up and doing well. In addition to being a fierce advocate against displacement, Ms. Darlene is also a veteran, and a beloved grandmother and neighbor.
Krystal Young has been a resident at UC Townhomes for 4 1/2 years. Alongside her fellow resident council members, she has fought against Altman and other city and state officials to preserve 20% of the townhomes. Krystal’s goals are to finish her time at CCP and achieve a degree in nursing or mental health. She loves to sing at the top of her lungs and dance around the house like no other.
Jon Wing Lum (1935-2015) grew up in New York City’s Chinatown. For many years he taught at Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) and was at the forefront of Asian Americans in the film industry. He pioneered “Catalytic Cinema ”— where film is a witness to, as well as an agent of, change. In a career spanning 50 years, his films focused on colonization, female agency, “minority” heroes, social justice, Chinese American culture, and the power of community action.
Black Journal debuted on National Educational Television on June 12, 1968, as a monthly one-hour program. Black Journal presented news segments and documentaries pertaining to the Black community and interviews with Black intellectuals, politicians, activists, entertainers, and athletes as part of its mission to display non-stereotyped presentations of what it meant to be Black in America. The series received Emmy, Peabody, and Russwurm awards for its coverage of timely issues.
Keyssh is a multimedia creator/community organizer from SouthWest Philly who uses the love of the past, the now, and Afro-futurism to help people learn and unlearn for the betterment of society and humanity.