Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street

The award-winning documentary about community vision, struggle, and change
Year Released
Film Length(s)
58 mins
Remote video URL


Holding Ground is at once a cautionary tale of urban policies gone wrong and a message of hope for all American cities. In 1985, African-American, Latino, Cape Verdean, and European-American residents in Roxbury, MA united to revitalize their community.

Featured review

A terrific story and a great organizing tool. Not only do we see the story unfold over a long period of time, but it is told from the point of view of the people who really did the job.
Gordon Quinn
Executive Producer, Hoop Dreams


The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative went on to gain national recognition as residents fought to close down illegal dumps, gain unprecedented control of land from City Hall and create a comprehensive plan to rebuild the fabric of their community. Through the voices of committed residents, activists and city officials, this moving documentary shows how a Boston neighborhood was able to create and carry out its own agenda for change.


This terrific documentary--at once a moving history and a hopeful battle-cry--tells the story of a grassroots struggle to revitalize an urban neighborhood abandoned by America. The model of inter-ethnic solidarity and effective activism it presents will come like rain in a dry season to communities all over the nation.
Jonathan Kozol
Author, Death at an Early Age, Amazing Grace
Holding Ground powerfully captures the high moments and the drudgery of rebuilding communities. The producers have brought a strong and creative touch to their work that will leave the audience with engaging portraits of activists and doers who refuse to give in and do prevail. We come away not only with good stories, but hope. Well done.
Henry Hampton
Executive Producer and Creator, Eyes on the Prize
Through grassroots sweat and tears, a group of ordinary people not only fight City Hall, but also persuade it to champion their stubbornly independent, neighborhood-driven approach to urban renewal...[Holding Ground] has cumulative human power and, at the end, an inspirational image of what the neighborhood was and what, with toil and pride, it is becoming.
John Koch
The Boston Globe
Beautifully shot, well researched, intimate and fresh, this film captures the vitality of an empowered community responding to the challenges of disinvestment, cultural differences, drugs and crime, and city politics. Its thematic chapters make wonderful catalysts for discussion.
Lillian Jimenez Director of Media Literacy
Media Network
I was left with a profound sense of hope.
Gloria Rubio-Cortes Vice President
National Civic League
Holding Ground vividly portrays the ingredients of successful community revitalization: leadership, patience, participation, vision and organization. It can inspire, fortify and teach all of those who care about the survival of community in our cities.
Harold Richman
Director Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of Chicago
Community building is alive and well in America today. This superb documentary will make believers of those who doubt that, and provide heartening evidence to those who already know it.
Lisbeth B. Schorr
Director Harvard University Project on Effective Interventions
Without dogma or party line, Holding Ground compellingly covers an array of complex community issues facing people everywhere. The lasting impressions of this deeply affecting work are carried in the voices of the people, triumphant.
Bo Smith Film Curator
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
I would hope that anyone associated with community planning, neighborhood organizing and the rebirth of neighborhoods would have a chance to view the film.
Mary Lou Crane
New England Director U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Holding Ground makes an important contribution to the work all of us are doing as thousands of people across the country try to enrich the meaning of democracy and empower the majority of our nation.
Frances Moore Lappe & Paul Martin DuBois Co-Directors
Center for Living Democracy

Awards and Screenings

CINE Golden Eagle
Outstanding Video, New England Film and Video Festival
National Endowment for the Arts National Medal of Honor, Nominee
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Margaret Mead Film Festival

Promotional Material

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