April 15, 1994

Building Hope: The CDC Oral History Project

Building Hope: The CDC Oral History Project from PC Digital History on Vimeo.

Community development corporations (CDCs) struggle to address problems of social, economic, and physical distress in low- and moderate-income communities throughout the United States. Their fundamental mission is to build community leadership and empower low-income people to take charge of their future. Despite great adversity, the field of community development has matured and grown tremendously over the years.

Pratt Center received the support and encouragement of the Ford Foundation to initiate an Oral History Project that would capture the rich history of the CDC movement from the perspective of some of its founding leaders. The documentary draws from interviews with the founders, leaders, and supporters of 19 CDCs across the country, which are available to researchers, scholars, and other interested individuals as part of the permanent collection at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

While the CDCs in the film vary in terms of their goals and strategies for revitalizing the communities they serve, these CDCs share common roots in the civil rights and antipoverty movements of the 1960s.

Pratt Center and Vanguard Films drew upon the CDC Oral History Project interviews to produce Building Hope, a one-hour video documentary that aired nationwide on PBS in April of 1994. Major funding for the CDC Oral History Project and Building Hope was provided by The Ford Foundation. Additional funding provided by: Fannie Mae Foundation, Prudential Foundation, and the Victoria Foundation.

The CDC Oral History Project is dedicated to the memory of Charles Bannerman, Bernard McDonald, Ted Watkins, and other leaders of the movement who are no longer with us.