Don’t Gentrify Me, Bro

Back in the days when slavery was first abolished, the African American contingency of Houston, Texas, was relegated to a separate section of the city called the Third Ward. Initially, the Third Ward flourished with black-owned businesses, churches, and schools. But over the course of the 20th century, it became one of the most poverty-stricken and crime-plagued areas in all of H-Town. As it reached its peak of poverty in the 1990s, rows of shotgun houses and condemned buildings lined the streets of the Ward.

But then a group of citizens – including an artist out of Alabama named Rick Lowe – decided to stop waiting for help from outside the Ward. Instead, they started a community art project, banding together to turn the impoverished area into a living work of art. Formerly dilapidated tenements were transformed into canvases and were then painted on by the residents-turned-artists. Projects sprang up all over, changing trash-filled yards into found art monuments. And a funny thing happened: The Third Ward started to thrive again.

But the story doesn’t end there. Soon after the transformation, Big Business started to take notice by purchasing land in the Ward and moving towards gentrifying the community. That’s when the real struggle began. The documentary Third Ward TX chronicles the long, hard road of the Ward’s resident artists, and it’s screening tonight at the Duncan Theater Stage West at PBCC (4200 South Congress Ave., Lake Worth). The film is the second in a six-part series called Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, which will bring indie directors and producers in to discuss their films alongside patrons. Tickets cost $10. Call 561-868-3315.
Thu., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., 2007

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John Linn