Buffalo's historic African-American sites get a boost from Albany

Apr 5, 2019

The new pot of state funding for revitalizing Buffalo's East Side includes millions of dollars for the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor.

The area includes the Michigan Street Baptist Church, the Nash House Museum, on Nash Street, along with the Colored Musicians Club and the WUFO Black Radio History Collective, both on Broadway, at Michigan.  
"All have significant historic value not only to this neighborhood but to this city," said George Scott, the president of the Colored Musicians Club and interim-director of the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor. Scott says the four museums pay tribute to Buffalo's role in the nation's history.   
"[For example] Rev. Nash and what he did in regards to Civil Rights and actually formulated the initial doctrine that would be used by the NAACP, here in Buffalo," said Scott.

George Scott, President of the Colored Musicians Club and Interim-Director of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

The Michigan Street Baptist Church was one of the final stops for slaves headed to freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad. Scott says many local musicians who went on to have a big influence in jazz got their start at the Colored Musicians Club.  
"Kenny Greene was a drummer. He was a premier drummer for Della Reese for many years and even did some work with Ella Fitzgerald, as well. And then we had other guys like Al Tinney who actually was from New York, but moved to Buffalo, but he's considered one of the forefathers of the bebop sound," Scott said. 

The state has awarded the organizations $7 million for capital improvements. Mayor Byron Brown says he thinks the investment will spur additional tourism in the Michigan Street corridor.
"I see it being a place where people will come not only from across the state of New York but will come from across the country and internationally to see the very rich African-American history that Buffalo has," Brown said.