Over the last eight days, Pastor Darius Pridgen has given eight eulogies at True Bethel Baptist Church. More than half were for people murdered in Buffalo.
Since January 1st, five men and a woman have been shot and killed in the city. All of the victims were African Americans. Pridgen is finding himself in a unique place. He has to comfort grieving families as both a minister and president of the Buffalo Common Council.
"In most of these services, I have not done a traditional eulogy, that just deals with the person. But I've really done teaching sessions of how we as a people must take hold of our own community and do the right thing," Pridgen said.
On Tuesday, the pastor took to Facebook to express his frustrations with the number of homicides in the city. He said in part, "MLK (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) wouldn't be proud and so shouldn't we."
"One of the most known civil rights leaders who wanted America to be so much better for people of color. That right now we are in the position where people of color are taking their lives more than anybody," Pridgen said.
The homicide funerals are becoming meeting spots for the community and activists to discuss ways to end crime. Pridgen is hopeful change is near.
"Although it's been heartbreaking to do so many services for homicide victims in the last week, it has been encouraging. Because you see that people really want to live better and hopefully by us being together so much in a week that message permeates," Pridgen said.