BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “It literally would be the first monument of its kind in American,” remarked Crystal Peoples-Stokes, majority leader, New York State Assembly.
Buffalo will be first city in the nation to create a monument dedicated to African American veterans.
But it was announced three years ago, and now, in the middle of a pandemic, the project is delayed.
Peoples-Stokes sat next to the spot on the downtown waterfront where a $1.6 million monument will be built. It’s right next to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.
“There is no other monument that honors African American veterans in every single war and every single branch of service,”People-Stokes said.
The African American Veterans Monument Committee already raised $1.4 million for the project. The state promised another $800,000.
The assembly approved $600,000 and now the senate must approved the rest. But Peoples-Stokes says she expects it to be approved soon.
“It’s imminent,” stated People-Stokes.
People-Stokes is promising the project will continue to move forward.
Ground was already broken in November of 2018. Construction was to begin earlier this year, but then the pandemic hit and everything has been put on hold.
The monument will feature 12-tall pillars to represent all 12 American wars where African Americans served.
“We actually did fight in every single, solitary wars this country has every engaged in,” People-Stokes commented.
People-Stokes said it’s time for African American to be represented in the Naval Park and downtown corridor.
“If you just walk a little further south on this land — we are on right now — you’ll see a monument to almost every other ethnicity that lives in Buffalo — including Hispanic, Polish, Italian and many others,” People-Stokes explained.
The assemblywoman said after witnessing the recent historic racial unrest, it’s time to educate the community about African American contributions to our country.
“And my father being a veteran is no different than you and your father being a veteran. We fought for the interest in the same country, so we too are Americans,” responded Peoples-Stokes. “People don’t really know the contributions of African Americans. Most people have no clue, including African Americans.”
Sadly, the designer of the monument, 43-year-old Jonathan Casey, died this past April, but his company, Solid 716, will continue his mission once construction begins.
People-Stokes reflected on what it will be like to stand before the monument some day.
“There will probably be a few tears — my eyes will probably leak,” replied People-Stokes.