LEARN ABOUT OUR ANCHORS
The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission (MSAAHCC) is the result of NYS legislation to create a historic preservation area on Buffalo’s east side. It has been operating as a commission since its creation in 2007 with the goal of becoming a self-sufficient nonprofit organization. After thirteen years, the commission is finally in the place it needs to be a successful organization and will be transitioning on January 1, 2021 to an independent nonprofit fully capable of managing the historic district.
The location of the heritage corridor is between Broadway, Eagle, Elm, and Nash to William Street, William Street (east) to Pine Street, and Pine Street (south) to Eagle. This area directly corresponds with the commissions four core “cultural anchors.” The cultural anchors are key to the commission’s success and mission. Each of the anchors maintain their own 501(c)3 with their own board of directors.
The MSAAHCC acts as an administrative support system and a sort of umbrella organization for the anchors and any new anchors that may develop along the corridor. Each anchor has at least one representative on the commission’s board. Currently the MSAAHCC is sponsored by the East Side Avenues as a part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion project. We also have the support of many community funders and foundations.
Currently, the MSAAHCC is made up of a group of four cultural anchors that have long resided in the corridor. The collaborative efforts of these cultural institutions make what we do possible.
The Michigan Street Baptist Church – Owned by the not-for-profit organization, the Buffalo Niagara Freedom Coalition, the Church has been a central part of the history and culture of Buffalo for more than 150 years. The 1845 building became a legendary Underground Railroad station, providing freedom seekers sanctuary before crossing to freedom in Canada. National leaders, including Mary McLeod Bethune, Mary Talbert, Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. have delivered powerful messages from this sanctuary. The church is about to undergo historic restoration.
The Historic Colored Musicians Club & Jazz Museum - The Colored Musicians Union, Local 533, was formed in 1917. A year later, upstairs from the office, the Colored Musicians Club became an after-hours gathering place for local touring musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Art Blakely, and many, many more. The club received designation as a historical landmark in 1979. Prior to the pandemic, it was still offering regular Sunday night jam sessions and was operating an interactive museum dedicated to jazz history. The club is about to embark on an expansion of its building to allow for more visitors and handicap accessibility.
The Nash House – Once the home of Rev. Edward Nash, pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church, The Nash House is currently owned by the not-for-profit organization The Michigan Street Preservation Corporation. The historic house has been operating as a museum since 2007. Many of Rev. Nash’s sermons and letters that are a crucial part of Buffalo’s African American community history were written here and are on display for viewing. The house is currently getting cosmetic updates.
WUFO Radio Station & Black History Collective – Established in 1961, WUFO is the only African American owned radio station in Western New York. In 2013, WUFO was purchased by Sheila L. Brown of Vision Multi Media Group (VMMG) and True Bethel Community Development Corporation, making it WNY’s first black, female-owned station. Brown is a well-respected icon in the community and hopes to open a not-for-profit Black History Collective, the first of its kind in the country. You can visit and see how a radio station operates. WUFO has provided America with popular African American radio personalities, including Frankie Crocker, Gary Byrd, Jerry Bledsoe, Thelka McCall, Dwayne Dancer Donovan, Don Allen, Don Mullins, and many more!
The Freedom Wall - Commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative in partnership with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, 2017. The Freedom Wall is located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and West Ferry.