This biography was originally released on July 24, 2021 as a part of our on going series titled: Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Written by the Staff of The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission
Henry Moxley was born into slavery in Virginia but escaped and made his way to Buffalo in 1832. Here, he was able to set up shop as a barber and become a successful entrepreneur, owning $3,000 in real estate property.
He was active in the Buffalo community and was an organizer of the National Convention of Colored Men that took place in Buffalo in 1843.
African Vine Street School from 19th Annual Report of the Superintendent of Schools
of the City of Buffalo for 1855
Moxley had four school-aged children at the time that he was working to sue the City of Buffalo for poor conditions at the African Vine Street School. When the vote to integrate the schools failed, Moxley and other parents took their children to their local neighborhood schools in protest. The Superintendent of the schools forced the removal of the students and ordered them to return to the Vine Street African School.
In response, Moxley and his groups filed another lawsuit to force integration. Their lawsuit was dismissed and Moxley was ordered to pay the court a fee of $192.
Finally, in 1872 the City Charter changed the rules to allow African American children the opportunity to enroll in their neighborhood schools. Integration led to dwindling enrollment at the African Vine School. It closed in 1881.
Thank you to our sources!
Seals Nevergold, Barbara. It Rests with her to pave the way. Ida Dora Fairbush – Buffalo’s First African American Teacher: A Pioneer. Buffalo, NY: Uncrowned Queens Publishing, 2019.
Crawford & Stearns Architects & Preservation Planners with Historical New York Research Associates. Historic Structure Report for the Michigan Street Baptist Church. Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition. Buffalo, NY. 2013.
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