Belmont Community History Project

Produced by: 
Louis Massiah and Scribe Video Center for the Philadelphia Planning Commission's Community Heritage Preservation Project
9 min 45 sec

William "Sonny" Martin, Bertha S. Waters and other longtime residents of West Philadelphia's Belmont neighborhood reflect on the area's prosperous past in the first half of the century, its slow economic decline, and the efforts of the Belmont Improvement Association, the Calvary Church and other concerned organizations and individual residents to revitalize the area, with or without sustained governmental assistance. Particular emphasis is given to the good and the less so -- including the area's main drag, the distressed commercial strip of Lancaster Avenue, abandoned architectural riches, colorful and well-maintained murals, the recently defunct Women's Hospital of Philadelphia, and newly installed sidewalks.

Louis Massiah is the founder and executive director of the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, a media arts organization that provides low-cost workshops and equipment access to emerging video and filmmakers and community organizations. He is an independent filmmaker who has produced and directed a variety of award-winning documentary films for public television.

Known for his explorations of civil rights themes and crises in the African-American community, his credits include two films in the Eyes on the Prize II series and The Bombing of Osage Avenue, about the burning of a black section of Philadephia as a result of the police bombing of the headquarters of the group MOVE. He is also the director of W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices. Massiah has received awards from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the the National Black Programming Consortium, the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and several Emmy award nominations. In 1996, he was a recipient of a five year John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship. His current project, Haytian Stories, examines the complex relationship between the United States and Haiti over the last 200 years.


July 28, 2004 - "Movie-ing on Up: A Scribe Video Center summer film series goes into the neighborhoods," Philadelphia Weekly

Public Screenings, Broadcasts and Festivals: 

7/31/04 - Street Movies screening at Holly Street Garden, Osage Avenue and Budd Street
(Philadelphia, PA)