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Reviving the memory of Grace Pendleton, Buffalo schools trailblazer

Grace Celia Taylor Pendleton was a scholastic groundbreaker in Western New York. In the 1880s, after a suffocating barrier against students of color endured for decades in the Buffalo schools, Pendleton became the first African American to attend an integrated Buffalo high school, a history-making step. But she also quickly became the most honored graduate at Buffalo's old Central High School, earning the distinguished Jesse Ketchum Medal as the top-ranked student in the senior class.

Those achievements were forgotten all too soon. The most glaring example of that historical oblivion is Pendleton's burial place in Ridge Lawn Cemetery in Cheektowaga, where she was laid to rest in 1945 in an unmarked grave.

Within the next few months, Pendleton will finally receive the respect she deserves. A coalition that includes descendants, educators, historians, the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the Mount Calvary Cemetery Group have joined together in a drive to erect striking headstones for Pendleton and Ida Dora Fairbush, the first teacher of color in an integrated Buffalo public school, who is buried in another unmarked grave a few steps away from Pendleton.

Sandra Anderson Garcia, a great-great niece of Pendleton and a professor emeritus at the University of South Florida, intends to start a scholarship for city schoolchildren in Pendleton's honor. Anderson Garcia is also seeking just the right words for a simple and direct message on the headstone.

She is leaning toward "triumphant scholar," or words to that effect.

"I want it to be something that anyone, a 12-year-old or an 80-year-old, would look at, say 'Yes, there it is,' and understand,” she said.

~ Sean Kirst


Schumer targets IJC over Lake Ontario flooding: "We're gonna go after them": There's a new team overseeing water levels on the overflowing Great Lakes, but the Canadian chairman of the International Joint Commission continues to defend a water management plan that U.S. politicians blame for flooding on New York's Lake Ontario shoreline. Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, criticized the IJC for "terrible management."

$22.5 million federal grant affirms Roswell Park's cancer-fighting clout: The National Cancer Institute has renewed Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center's status as one of 50 elite cancer centers nationwide. It has renewed a major grant that will bolster breakthrough treatments, cancer prevention efforts and clinical trials.

From a black water bathhouse to a church, a place for healing in Alden: A historical marker sits on the lawn of St. Aidan's Episcopal Church on West Main Street. It was the original Black Water Bathhouse in Alden. Margaret Rose, the church's warden and worship leader, believes the structure serves the same purpose today that it always served. "It has been a site of healing for 100 years," says Rose.

Shark Girl to undergo major beauty treatment: Think of the treatment center that Shark Girl will visit as the human equivalent of a high-end health spa. The popular sculpture and social media darling that resides at Canalside will be moved to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery after Labor Day and will undergo up to $49,000 in repairs and maintenance. All those selfies and family photos snapped by legions of waterfront visitors have caused excess wear and tear on our famous half-girl, half-shark icon. But even after undergoing about two months of expert TLC, Shark Girl may still feel like a fish out of water.

As painting proceeds, restored carousel is a few coats closer to debut: Shark Girl will have some competition for the attention of Canalside visitors next year. Restoration of a vintage carousel is proceeding, with five horses and an ostrich the latest of a 34-animal menagerie to be worked on.

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Don Paul: After a warm and sunny weekend, expect cooler and unsettled conditions: Or to borrow a refrain from the Eurythmics: "Here comes the rain again."


5 places for great gin cocktails in Buffalo: June 8 was World Gin Day. It inspired Max Kalnitz to doggedly sniff out some of the best gin cocktails in the area. As it turns out, it's not too hard to do.


Helping greenhouses grow without pesticides: An early stage agribusiness in Orleans County is using good bugs to wipe out the bad ones. Sierra Biological produces predators for the greenhouse industry and is harvesting and selling nematodes, a type of ringworm, to commercial greenhouses and farmers. Spectrum News Buffalo’s Fadia Patterson offers a behind-the-scenes look at this unique enterprise.


Get ready for another million-dollar Erie County executive race: Spending on the campaign to snare the county’s top elective office will likely hit seven figures, according to The News’ Susan Schulman. Incumbent Mark Poloncarz is expected to outspend challenger Lynn Dixon, an Independence Party member also running with backing on the Republican line.


The Challenger: Praising a donor for helping to advance co-op grocery store: We recently told you about an anonymous donor who bought a fire-damaged building at 238 Carlton St. and donated it to the African Heritage Food Co-op. Check out this piece posted by the Challenger that examines ongoing efforts to create a cooperative grocery store in the Fruit Belt.


2018 draft pick Siran Neal working at slot cornerback: Speaking recently about why he changed his jersey number, Neal also mentioned that he's getting work at a different position this spring, playing exclusively as a slot cornerback during offseason team activity. The move may not be permanent, but it's a chance for Neal to showcase all the tools in his toolbox as he seeks an expanded role in Year 2.

Weird or awesome? Teen's over-the-top Bills tux for prom goes viral: A kid in Rochester went to prom wearing a Bills-logo tux. The pictures are something, but we really need to give credit to his girlfriend, Maddy, who put up with this outfit. She could've easily shot this down but decided to play along. She's the real MVP here.

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“How do you start a mass movement?” asks Rise Collaborative in its Lifted podcast. “In this case, all it takes is the distant ring of a bicycle bell. And it begins – one thousand people on bicycles, moving together.” You may have already guessed that we’re referring to Slow Roll Buffalo. Podcast host Holly Kirkpatrick chats with Slow Roll Buffalo co-founder Seamus Gallivan. The event has received tons of social media love. But it’s not winning over the heart of David Kiefer II, who submitted this letter to The News complaining that the event isolates many people in their homes or exiles them for hours at a time. Asks Kiefer: “Could it be that the only people who like Slow Roll are the participants?”

There are only 85 basilicas across the United States. Most local residents know about Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna and the National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston. But did you know there’s a basilica in Olean? Pope Francis granted the title of minor basilica to St. Mary of the Angels in 2017. This past weekend, a festival celebrated the 100th anniversary of the church’s consecration and the installation of its magnificent windows. We made our first visit to this impressive edifice on Sunday. Check out this photo gallery from Adam Miller of the Olean Times Herald. Back in April, The News’ posted this photo gallery from Mark Mulville.

We mentioned Lake Ontario a bit earlier. Here's one additional concern. High water levels and waves that relentlessly pound on a seawall are posing a modern-day threat to a historic treasure that has weathered three centuries of challenges: erosion. Old Fort Niagara is situated where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario. The News' Matt Glynn reports that New York's two U.S. senators are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pave the way for a project to safeguard the seawall and the fort's historic structures against erosion.

If you ask Elizabeth Licata of Buffalo Spree, gardening know-how is at a crossroads. She says many novice gardeners don’t seem to know where to turn for guidance. “And I am not sure why,” Licata writes. “For me, it was simple. Books have always been my go-to for almost everything else in my life – my education, my how-to, my recreation, my refuge – so I used books to figure out what to plant, where to plant it, and how to take care of it.” If you’re into gardening, check out Licata’s post.

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