W. E. B. DuBois was an American sociologist, civil rights activist and university professor. He was born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Mass., and lived until 1963 at 95 years old. He was the first African American to earn a Ph. D. at Harvard University. DuBois also co-founded the NAACP, constantly relaying to other African Americans to reject Frederick Douglass’ idea of integration and instead brace their own heritage.
Mary Burnett Talbert was one of the most prominent African American activists of her time. She was among the founders of the Niagara Movement and advocated for not only anti-racist movements but female suffrage and women’s rights as well. She spoke on numerous lecture tours about the oppressive conditions that African-American communities faced and encouraged women of all colors to work together for equality.
Jesse Nash was the pastor of the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church for 61 years and played an important role in the establishment of the Buffalo branch of the NAACP in 1915, as well as the Niagara Movement. He urged his congregation to strive for equal rights. Nash played a significant role in establishing a community on Buffalo’s east side.
The Pan-American Exposition of 1901 was a world’s fair that took place in Buffalo from May 1, 1901 to November 2, 1901. At the Paris Exposition in 1900, activists and individuals such as W.E.B. DuBois contributed an entry for the United States, titled the “Negro Exhibit.” This exhibit displayed the life and achievements of the African American population in the years following their emancipation. Buffalo’s African American community in particular wanted to include the exhibit at the next world fair.
In the late 19th century, many African Americans moved up North to create better lives. Industrial cities such as Buffalo offered a great number of opportunities. Here, they found better jobs and better lives for themselves and their families.
Especially during and after World War I, Buffalo presented the African American community with better prospects than the South had.
Booker T. Washington was a popular spokesman and leader of the African American community. Washington was born in 1956 in Hale’s Ford, Va., and belonged to the last generation of African Americans to be born into slavery. He was extremely influential to both black and white parties, and his followers called him the “Tuskegee Machine.” His other accomplishments include writing 14 novels, including his autobiography Up From Slavery, and co-founding West Virginia State University. He died in 1915 at the age of 58.
Joseph Hodge was the first non-Native American settler in the Buffalo area. After escaping slavery in the mid 1700s, Hodge married into the Seneca tribe. He and his wife operated a fur trading post, and he often worked as an interpreter.
The National Liberty Party was a minor political party founded in 1840, consisting of abolitionists who broke away from the American Anti-Slavery Society. They believed that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document and used the document to support their efforts. The National Liberty Party’s first national convention took place in Arcade, N.Y., on April 1, 1840.
The National Convention of Colored Citizens, one of the most significant conventions in abolition movements, began on August 15, 1843, in Buffalo. The Convention lasted four days, and its participants discussed their efforts to claim the rights of other American citizens. Perhaps the most notable of speeches was by Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, who radically encouraged slaves to strive for total emancipation.
The Free Soil Party was a very short-lived political party, remaining active from 1848 until fully absorbing into the Republican Party in 1854. The FSP was formed in Buffalo at Lafayette Square (known then as Court House Park). Although short-lived, the party was groundbreaking for mainly consisting of anti-slavery members. After fusing with the Republican Party, anti-slavery Democrats also switched parties to help the cause. Martin Van Buren was the only politician of the Free Soil Party to be nominated for president, albeit unsuccessfully.
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