This is a stirring, unsentimental examination of group cooperation, social conflict, urban change and more than 60 years of Black/Jewish relations in the working-class Brooklyn community of Brownsville. The film begins by describing how a group of poor Jewish and African-American teenagers banded together to form the Brownsville Boys Club in order to to solve a simple problem: the lack of available space in order to play ball. The club fielded integrated sports teams (years before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers) and organized even more controversial social "mixers." The second part of the film sheds new light on the struggle over control of Brownsville's public schools, which culminated in the famous 1968 stand-off between minority residents and the predominantly Jewish United Federation of Teachers. Finally, the film examines the disintegration of Brownsville following a disastrous policy of urban renewal. BROWNSVILLE, the last work of renowned populist filmmaker, Richard Broadman (1947-2000), features poignant personal testimony, painstakingly researched archival images and striking contemporary footage. The humane guiding spirit of its director makes it a rare treat. Executive producer Laurann Black and a talented team of Broadman’s former students brought this film to completion following his untimely death.
Richard Broadman was an award-winning filmmaker with over twenty five years of filmmaking to his credit. He is a two-time recipient of NEH grants, as well as several other Humanities and Cultural Council money. Richard made over 15 films, and countless other student works. He was a teacher at the Visual and Critical Studies area of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a member of the Art History faculty at Tufts University, where he taught courses in film and film history.