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Plans for a renaissance in Buffalo's Michigan St. African American Heritage Corridor

What changes you could see soon
Beautification and adding businesses are some of the goals for the corridor in the next 5 years
Posted at 1:02 PM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 06:56:09-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Black History lines the streets in WNY. From the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls to the Michigan Street Baptist Church in Downtown Buffalo. As we celebrate Black History this month, Michigan Street's African American Heritage Corridor Commission is looking centuries ahead.

In 2021, 7 News toured all four anchors of the Corridor: The Nash House, The Michigan Street Baptist Church, The Colored Musicians Club and WUFO/Black History Collective, speaking with leaders about plans for the future.

"A destination that we can all be proud of in the city," said Terry Alford, Executive Director of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission.

The commission drew up a strategic action plan and spent much of the last 12 months doing community outreach, asking people what they want to see and they answered:

  • Black and minority-owned businesses
  • Green space
  • Art installations
  • Addressing food deserts
  • Addressing a lack of health and wellness services
  • Recognition of old pillars that no longer stand (i.e. The Little Harlem Hotel)
  • A central hub for the Corridor

All of this will be possible because of funding from Empire State Development, per Alford. He says tackling these goals will take years, but they are working on some things in the short term.

Starting this year through the next three years, the plans are to work on beautification by working with the city to improve the streetscape. They want it to be a place to walk, shop and eat, like Elmwood or Hertel Avenues.

Long term plans include bringing in new businesses and building affordable housing. Meantime, work continues on renovating each of the four anchors:

  • Michigan St. Baptist Church: Structural enhancements underway inside now, exterior enhancements coming later this year
  • Nash House: Installing new doors and windows coming this spring, informational touch pads coming inside
  • Colored Musicians Club and Jazz Museum: In planning stages, a construction company has been chosen
  • WUFO: Will be building a museum next to the Michigan Street Baptist Church and a new structure for WUFO Radios to move into next door to that.

More details on the action plan are expected on February 10.

This month, if you're looking to celebrate Black History, there's a full list of events being put on by the Corridor:

  • Jesse Clipper - The Real Story
    • February 2, 6pm via zoom
  • Turning Tables - Radio History
    • February 8, 6pm via zoom
  • Strategic Action Plan Reveal
    • February 10, 6pm via zoom
  • African American Veterans & Segregation in the Military
    • February 15, 6pm via zoom
  • The ABC's of Buffalo's Black History
    • February 22, 6pm via zoom
  • Untold Stories of the Underground Railroad in Buffalo
    • February 23, 6pm via zoom
  • Free Tour of the Nash House Museum
    • February 26, 12-4pm
    • 36 Nash St, Buffalo, NY 14204
  • Crossover Tour with Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
    • February 26, 4-6 via zoom
  • Tours of the Michigan Street Corridor Every Saturday
    • 511 Michigan Ave, Buffalo, NY 14203