Today is a historic day for the City of Buffalo and for African Americans everywhere. All are celebrating the recent signing of Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples’ bill, A.7845-B.
Assemblymember Peoples’ bill calls for the establishment of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission. This day solidifies the historic symbolism that the City of Buffalo had in the development of African American culture and honors monumental achievements and efforts to African American history.
This Commission will provide governance of the sustainability and expansion of the targeted historic area for purposes of preservation, tourism and enhanced economic development opportunities for the City of Buffalo and Western New York, as well as provide recommendations for any oversight. The areas outlined for preservation include the Michigan Street Baptist Church, the Nash House, the Colored Musicians Club, and the Little Harlem Night Club. In addition, the home of Mary B. Talbert is commemorated although it is no longer still standing.
The Michigan Street Baptist Church, built in 1845 by Buffalo's free Blacks, served as the last 'Station' on the Underground Railroad. The Church played a significant role in the Slavery Abolition Movement and spurred the eventual formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Reverend Dr. Jessie E. Nash’s home, located at 36 Nash Street, recognizes Reverend Nash's instrumental role in founding the Buffalo Urban League and local branch of the NAACP. Along with the Nash House the Home of Mary B. Talbert is also of great significance. Mary B. Talbert was one of the founders of the Niagara Movement; her house is located at 521 Michigan Avenue.
The Colored Musician's Club, located at 145 Broadway, is notorious for hosting the giants of American jazz through such great musical influences such as: Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and many others. The Colored Musician’s Club was not the only jazz influence in the City of Buffalo. Located at 494 Michigan was The Little Harlem Night Club, a local historic landmark in the City of Buffalo. Tragically, The Little Harlem Night Club was lost to an unfortunate fire in early 1993, and the site has remained vacant ever since.
The Michigan Street African American Corridor is rich in African American History and has been nationally recognized for its unique cultural resources and historically significant buildings. This two-block area has been center stage in the epic history of Buffalo's black community and will become even more famous do to its inclusion in The National Women's Rights History Project Act. The National Women's Rights History Project Act, is a bill designed to provide Americans with the opportunity to learn more about the heroines who fought tirelessly to secure women's rights in the United States and was introduced in Congress on July 19, 2007 by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-28).
Overall, The Michigan Street African American Corridor will serve as an important vehicle and force, providing the foundational momentum to create various economic opportunities and investments in Western NY with the focus on revitalizing the Upstate economy. The economic and historic features of The Michigan Street African American Corridor not only benefit the City of Buffalo and Western NY, but also benefit all New Yorkers.