Texas Southern University and the famous DeLuxe Theater hosted the first-ever Fifth Ward Documentary Film Festival this past weekend in Houston, Texas, Fifth Ward district. Jolie Rocke Brown, one of the festival’s organizers and one of the actors in Porgy and me, says, “it would be really important and inspirational to share this with our community, especially young people, because a lot of people, you know, don’t see opera as a genre or a career that’s viable for African Americans, and that is so untrue.”
Brown is a Visiting Associate Professor of Music at Texas Southern University and the interim Managing Director of The DeLuxe Theater. The DeLuxe Theater history dates back to 1941 as a movie theater on Lyons Avenue, which contributed to desegregating movie theaters after the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, but the DeLuxe closed in 1969. In 1971 the “DeLuxe Show” presented by Peter Bradley, Jefferee James, and Mickey Leland was “one of the first racially integrated exhibitions of contemporary artists in the United States at a time of a nationwide controversy on opportunities for black artists.” Again, the DeLuxe Theater business started slipping into darkness.
Fortunately, in 1998 the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation bought the theater and collaborated with Texas Southern University and the City of Houston to remodel the historic DeLuxe Theater. Now in 2017, the DeLuxe Theater is hosting its first film festival in the Fifth Ward community.
The festival will feature a few documentaries such as Mickey Leland: Citizen of the World about the late iconic Black Texas congressman Mickey Leland and the Oscar nominated I Am Not Your Negro. With the beginning of the Fifth Ward Documentary Film Festival, Brown hopes “that we are inspired to continue to keep our eyes open to dialogue and conversation about what it means to be black in America, and that we can inspire new leadership from our young people, especially.” The DeLuxe Theater is a prime example of when a community comes together more can be accomplished.
Originally blogged on Campus Lately