Vanport Mosaic Festival Kicks Off This Weekend

Highlights include screening of the new film “Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts” and Malcolm X tour of Albina.

Vanport Mosaic Festival (Ben Puggarana/Vanport Mosaic)

Vancouver filmmaker Dru Holley’s documentary Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts is the centerpiece of opening weekend of the ninth annual Vanport Mosaic Festival, which runs May 18–June 1 this year.

Vanport Mosaic commemorates the temporary housing project built in 1942 for shipyard workers and their families that was destroyed in a Memorial Day flood six years later. The 1948 flood killed at least 15 and displaced 18,700 residents. Vanport Mosaic is a “memory activism platform,” according to its co-founder Laura Lo Forti.

Even though Holley’s Buffalo Soldiers is about Black military men navigating both conflicts abroad and civil rights struggles at home in the post-Civil War era, its themes fit right into Vanport Mosaic’s mission of amplifying silenced histories, Lo Forti says.

“The Buffalo Soldiers story is similar to Vanport in that when you learn about African American history, this is certainly not a story that’s in the history books—and if it is, it’s not given justice to the complexity of the experience.”

The other special event this weekend is a Malcolm X Day tour of Albina, led by Kent Ford, co-founder of Portland’s chapter of the Black Panther Party. Ford will lead participants through important stops in Northeast Portland honoring the life of civil rights activist Malcolm X, who would have been 99 years old on May 19. The tour starts at 10:30 am on Sunday, May 19, from the parking lot of Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 NE Knott St.

Buffalo Soliders screens at 2 pm on Sunday, May 19, at Open Signal, 2766 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. A question-and-answer session with director Dru Holley follows the film.

Tickets to the movie screening and the tour are available at, along with the full slate of events.

The festival culminates in a free afternoon event of storytelling, performances, pop-up exhibits and screenings at the Expo Center on June 1.

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