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Editorial: Nash House is only a start

If you missed it, The Buffalo News carried a fascinating picture package on the city’s Nash House Museum, which offers a window into black history in Buffalo.

Nash’s story is inspirational and, if anything, deserves even greater attention and interest. Born to former slaves, he was pastor of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church from 1892 until he retired in 1953, just four years before his death. He was also a powerful advocate for the city’s black population.

The problem with the Nash House, besides its restricted hours, is that it is saddled with too much of the valuable and necessary work of celebrating and explaining the experience of black Americans in Buffalo. What about the rest of it?

The development of the Michigan Avenue corridor, remains an unfulfilled project. The Colored Musicians Club is practically a secret. Perhaps the greatest disservice is the lack of any substantial acknowledgement of Buffalo’s role in the Underground Railroad, which shepherded escaped slaves to freedom in Canada.

In Niagara Falls, the Underground Railroad Heritage Center opened last May. There is talk of creating one in Buffalo, but so far, it’s only talk.

It’s not all wasted opportunities. On Independence Day last year, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, and Sen. Chris Jacobs, R-Buffalo, announced that Buffalo will be home to the nation’s only monument to the country’s African-American war veterans. That should be a source of pride to Buffalo. Not only that, it should be a spur to do more.

Honoring this city’s African American history in a thoughtful and interesting way could draw interested people to Buffalo. More than that, it would call our own attention to the under-appreciated history of Buffalo’s black citizens.

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