5 Western New Yorkers Who Are Important To American Black History
Black history is American History, and Buffalo's contribution to this part of American History runs long and deep. There are so many people who have lived in Buffalo and places within Buffalo who have made a significant impact on our country today.
Since 1964, when President Gerald Ford changed Black History Week to Black History Month, we've celebrated the cultural impact that has been made on American society by all of these important people and places. Since we live with so many treasures in our community, we may take some of these people and places for granted. Let's strive in 2024 to take the time to learn all about everything Buffalo has to offer, including its contribution to black history.
Here are five black Americans who lived in Buffalo who had an impact on the world we live in:
Joseph Black Joe Hodge
Perhaps one of the most important black Americans who called Buffalo home, Joseph Hodge, has a claim to a very unique distinction. Legend tells us that Black Joe Hodge arrived in the area that would become Western New York in the early 1770s, and he was Buffalo's very first permanent resident. When land surveyors arrived in Western New York to map the area, they found Mr. Hodge, who owned a tavern and was a very successful trader with Native Americans as he was fluent in the Seneca language. Next time you ride by Hodge Ave., make sure you give a salute to Buffalo’s first resident, Black Joe Hodge.
Unbought and Unbossed until the end, the first black woman in America who ran for President of the United States was a woman who called Buffalo home. Shirley Chisholm was a member of the New York State Assembly and US House of Representatives from New York City; after she left Congress, she moved back to her home in Williamsville, where she lived with her husband Arthur Hardwick, Jr. If you happen to find yourself roaming around Forest Lawn cemetery, stop by the Birchwood Mausoleum and say hi.
In 1944, Reverend CL Franklin moved his entire family from Memphis, Tennessee, to Western New York when he accepted a new position as Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, located just outside Downtown Buffalo. Rev. Franklin’s youngest daughter, a young lady named Aretha Franklin, credits her time in Buffalo as instrumental in developing the love and sense of music that we all know and love today. Aretha Franklin’s contribution to the music industry is legendary.
J. Edward Nash
Moving to Buffalo in 1892 to become pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Jesse Edward Nash fully embraced Buffalo. He served as the leader of the historic black church for more than 60 years and was instrumental in creating the NAACP and Buffalo Urban League.
A US Navy Seal, Air Force Tactical Air Control Party Trooper, and Army Ranger, David Goggins grew up in Buffalo and spent 20 years defending our country while en route to becoming a highly decorated special operator. Goggins also holds the Guinness World Record for the most pull-ups in a 24-hour period. You may have heard of his father, Trunnis Goggins, the longtime owner of New Skateland on East Ferry St.
Do you know of any other Buffalonians whom we should add to this list?
5 Locations That Are Important to Black History in Buffalo
Gallery Credit: Ed Nice
Buffalo's 48th Juneteenth Celebration, Parade, and Festival
Gallery Credit: Ed Nice