The New York Department of State today announced that the fourth public meeting of the New York State Commission on African American History will take place in Buffalo on June 12th to show support for the community in the wake of the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market. The Commission’s mission has been to recognize and acknowledge the past and to generate ideas and action plans to fully acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of African Americans and Black New Yorkers within our society. The theme of this next meeting - “Looking Back While Moving Forward: Recognizing the long-standing presence, rich contributions and pride of African Americans in Western New York” – continues that focus with a specific emphasis on Buffalo and the Western New York region.
The public meeting will be held at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library located at 1 Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. The meeting will consist of a panel discussion featuring Buffalo-based community leaders, advocates, and academics focusing on the significance of history in the rebuilding and revitalization of cities, with a public comment period at the end of the program. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting in person or watch live here. New Yorkers can also share their questions, thoughts, ideas and solutions with the Commission on African American History here.
“The City of Buffalo experienced a devastating tragedy last year, the effects of which are still being felt by the community today,” said Secretary of State and Chairperson of the New York State Commission on African American History Robert J. Rodriguez. “We are bringing our next Commission meeting to Buffalo not only to show support for this community, but to honor those we lost and ensure their memories remain a part of the City and State’s history as we continue our fight for a more inclusive and just society.”
NAACP New York State Conference President and Vice Chairperson of the New York State Commission on African American History Dr. Hazel Dukes said, " African Americans have made major contributions to the history of Buffalo and New York State. It's our responsibility to lift these stories up - not only so we don't forget, but also so that we learn how we overcame hardships, solved problems, and thrived together. Our past is full of successes and we cannot forget that."
Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "I’m very proud that the NYS Commission on African American History will be hosting their next meeting in Buffalo. This discussion is important for our community as we continue to heal and reflect as we approach the one-year anniversary of the tragedy of the Tops racist, mass shooting on May 14th, 2022. I look forward to speaking with the Commission about many of the great African Americans throughout Buffalo’s history and to add to the dialogue of building a more inclusive and equitable city."
On March 9, 2022, Governor Hochul signed an Executive Order to create the New York State Commission on African American History. The Commission serves to highlight contributions by African American and Black New Yorkers to our country and to New York State. The Commission is partnering with community-based organizations to bring New Yorkers together through events, cultural programming, scholarly research and other activities that promote a greater understanding of the history and achievements of African Americans throughout the State, including holding public meetings in diverse geographic regions of the State of New York.
The Commission is comprised of fifteen individuals appointed by the Governor, the Temporary President of the New York State Senate, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate Minority Leader and the New York State Assembly Minority Leader. Two of the Commission members are based in Buffalo – Dr. Henry Taylor, who is a professor at the University of Buffalo, and Dr. John R. Torrey, assistant professor of philosophy and a contributing professor in Africana Studies at Buffalo State University. View all the Commissioner members here.
The Commission held its inaugural public meeting at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in November of 2022 in Harlem, NY. The second meeting of the New York State Commission on African American History was held in February of 2023 at Philipse Hall Manor in Yonkers, NY, where the Commission discussed the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation’s “Our Whole History” initiative and efforts to include exhibits that document the story of enslaved Africans and indigenous people. In recognition of Women’s History Month in March, the Commission partnered with the University at Albany Africana Studies Department to host a panel discussion in Albany, NY on the role Black women have played within our democracy and civic society.
Learn more about the New York State Commission on African American History: https://www.ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-commission-african-american-history.