March 2, 2024

WHAT HAPPENED TO JACKSON AVENUE: A Story of Urban Renewal

Showing: June 24 and July 7 at 8:00
Title: WHAT HAPPENED TO JACKSON AVENUE
Year: 2023
Country: USA
Genre: ,,
Director: ,

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A PHOENIX THEATRE ENSEMBLE PRODUCTION

WHAT HAPPENED TO JACKSON AVENUE: A Story of Urban Renewal
A Documentary Film by Hakima Alem and Rudi Gohl

In the summer of 2019 Clara Francesca, Elise Stone, and Craig Smith from Phoenix Theatre Ensemble  were meeting with Bill Batson, Nyack community leader, historian, and activist, outside in the Nyack parking lot next to Main Street planning the Nyack performing arts festival.  At one point Bill standing in some empty parking spaces said, “This was Jackson Avenue, our family home stood here” –  thus began a 2-year journey leading to this powerful documentary film about the urban renewal program in 1960’s Nyack.

“What Happened to Jackson Avenue, a story of urban renewal” covers an urban renewal program that removed 125 families (79% Black) . These families lost their homes, families, and community and the lost generational wealth. The film includes personal and emotional stories from individuals who  were  present and saw the destruction of their community, some of who are now in their 80s and 90s & want to be heard.

This screening will be followed by a panel discussion.

Comments from the rough cut screening:

A Powerful Film, a service to our community as it acknowledges and learns from its history” – Nyack Mayor Don Hammond

“The Nyack Branch of the NAACP was founded by Walter Blount Sr. in 1928. Hearing from his daughter and others whose lives and livelihoods were altered so dramatically by discrimination and urban “renewal” in this powerful film is a tremendous gift to our community. Unfortunately, the story continues. Fair housing and home ownership continue to be key issues for the NAACP and for everyone we represent. We hope this film will advance this discussion and motivate change.” – Nicole Hines, President, Nyack NAACP

“An important record that speaks to issues we face today, and this remarkable film commands us not to repeat the mistakes of a racist past.” Paul Adler, Esq. – Chair, Civic Engagement Committee – Nyack NAACP 

“In the mid 20th Century, urban renewal programs devastated communities around the country, including right here in Nyack. What Happened to Jackson Avenue tells a gripping story of how Nyack’s government turned its back on residents and bulldozed a vibrant Black community in pursuit of vague promises of economic development. This film is essential to understanding Nyack’s history, and provides an important case study of how even a small village was shaped by the broader forces driving urban renewal policies in the 1960s.” – Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Fmr NY State Senator

“What Happened To Jackson Avenue is a powerful documentary about urban renewal that honors the lives of those displaced and informs those unaware about the misguided policy that has left unhealed wounds across America. This film will prompt an overdue conversation and compel legislation to address the generational wealth stolen from the impacted families and communities, 80% of which were black.” – Bill Batson, Artist, Historian, Writer, Activist