At an age when most people have been retired for decades, Betty Reid Soskin is helping our country redefine our understanding of racial segregation and civil rights. As a 20-year-old, she signed up to work in the WWII home front effort but Richmond, California’s segregated shipyards restricted her to work as a secretary in a Jim Crow union hall. Seventy-five years later, she’s now the country’s oldest park ranger, and she’s shaped Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter Park into a public examination of racism and segregation during the War, earning a presidential medal of honor from Barack Obama.

But beyond her public self, there’s a hidden side to Betty most people don’t know about. Long before she was a ranger, Betty was a singer/songwriter in the 1960s and 1970s with a voice like Billie Holiday and the relevance of Nina Simone, but she turned her back on a potential career as a musical artist and never recorded commercially. Her songs tell the story of her experiences confronting segregation in the Bay Area’s housing market after WWII and the harm that came to her family for being the first black family to move into an all-white suburb. For nearly 40 years, her music remained untouched on dusty reel-to-reel tapes.

Now, Betty has decided to team up with a new generation of musicians, including acclaimed jazz composer
Marcus Shelby and the Oakland East Bay Symphony to write and perform new arrangements of her songs, sparking an autobiographical journey through the black experience by three generations of musicians in California.

Production Team

Bryan Gibel, Director/Producer/Cinematographer
Bryan is a director, producer and cinematographer in Oakland, CA.

Originally from New Mexico, he earned a master’s degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism documentary film program in 2012, where he was awarded the Mark Felt Fellowship for Investigative Reporting.

While at Berkeley, he directed, shot and edited Chicago Confessional, a 26-minute documentary film about wrongful convictions and an inmate’s fight for a new trial after 30 years in prison. He speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.

James LeJeune

Bob Elfstrom

Bryan Gibel

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Jamie LeJeune, Cinematographer

Jamie has worked with the Sausalito-based production company, InCA, for the past seven years, coming with a background in anthropology and community development. Since then he has shot, edited and produced works that range from television documentary series to viral activist video and promotional pieces for local non-profits.

Bob Elfstrom, Special Advisor

Bob is a highly accomplished documentary director and cinematographer with a remarkable track record making music documentaries and films that address broader social issues through personal stories. Over his 50-year career, Bob has shot and directed dozens of documentary films and multiple award-winning features.  Bob has worked closely with Bryan as a mentor and teacher for years, and he’s served as a special advisor on Sign My Name To Freedom throughout the film’s development.

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