You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Like so many of you, our hearts are very heavy today. Like the iconic Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, which serves as the connector of the past, present, and future for those historic neighborhoods within and beyond the City of Buffalo, Jefferson Avenue is celebrated as a cultural beacon of African American life. Long considered the “spine” of the Black community, Jefferson Ave. has been a place where many socio-and political movements successfully began and flourished.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
We must all stand steadfast and condemn the systemic and societal issues that led to this heinous act. We all must engage in honest discussions that unabashedly and unapologetically acknowledge the scourge of white supremacist hate groups that exists in every city, town, village, and hamlet across this nation and beyond. This terrible atrocity was committed by a weak, impressionable individual radicalized by a network of hate groups upon other people who look like me. However, we are not in the least defeated. We are a strong people emblematic of so many before us who despite the hardships and obstacles placed in their way simply because of the color of their skin, still possessed the resolve to rise above them all.
We cannot begin to express the amount of grief and pain all of us continue to feel. The African American community in Buffalo has for generations been a close-knit one. Many of us are close to someone directly impacted by this violent murderous act. We cry with those families who lost loved ones, but they will not be defined as victims but celebrated as beautiful, inspiring people who loved their families and their community.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
(Excerpts in italics from And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright 1978)