Francisville Community History Project
This video is available for purchase as part of a Precious Places Community History Project Vol.3 compilation DVD.
A group of African American men, former members of the Morroccos street gang, all proud residents of the primarily African American North Philadelphia neighborhood of Francisville, take us on a walking tour of their neighborhood's precious places and introduce viewers to longtime residents. They touch on large and small meaningful moments in Francisville's past and present, including stories about the area’s development in the 17th century as a vineyard for William Penn. More recent histories include the ups and downs of neighborhood schools, gang warfare in the 1960s, the daily upkeep done by today's senior residents, activist Cecil B. Moore's successful efforts to politicize gang members to join in the year long struggle to desegregate Girard College in 1965; and how the neighborhood's proximity to moneyed Center City has lead to repeated, but unsuccessful, efforts to oust Francisville's low-to-moderate income homeowners in favor of upscale gentrification.
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 also 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.