The Making of A Monument

Friday February 8th Grand Opening Features New Exhibit Plus Other Important Presentations

Clifford Bell knows his Buffalo history. Names, faces, events and places effortlessly roll off his tongue when he starts talking about the way things were.

Affectionately known as “Brother Bell,” it is little wonder why the soon to be 90-years young icon serves as chairman of the Buffalo African American Museum, a unique and powerful portable exhibit that continues to grow and expand, bringing “knowledge, awareness, understanding and appreciation of the historical contributions of African American people, “ especially in the City of Buffalo.

This Friday, February 8 at 12 noon, the community is invited to attend the grand opening of this year’s Black History Exhibit located inside the Downtown library where a brand new presentation will be featured entitled “The Making Of A Monument” in memory of Lt. Colonel Craven Middlebrooks Givens. An outstanding citizen, Mr. Givens served as Chairperson of the MLK Jr. Trust Fund and co-chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration events. He and Mr. Bell worked closely, along with an extraordinary committee, to bring what is believed to be the second largest creative tribute to Dr. King in the world, to Buffalo’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park over three decades ago.

Pictured with Chairman Bell are  African American Museum Curator/Exhibit Layout contributors Debra Johnson (left) and Doretha Edwards (right)

The present petition drive to destroy and replace that sculpture with a piece of public art that “looks like Dr. King,” is what spurred the organization to develop “Making of a Monument” which will tell the story – from start to finish – of how the current sculpture was chosen; and to drive home the fact that it was never meant to be an image in the likeness of Dr. King.
It is an important story, as is the exhibit, which Mr. Bell calls, an attempt to “respond in an intelligent way” to the move to replace the current sculpture.“If people knew the history and who was involved and the process that took place they would have a little more appreciation,” he said.
“There is no way the dedication and efforts of the founders of the statue will agree with the idea of its removal. We should see it instead as a reminder of Dr. King’s leadership seeking civil rights and justice for all during perilous times.”

John Wilson, the renowned sculpture who created the monument wrote: “He (Dr. King” had an innate sense of identification with his own Black people and their struggles, conflicts and celebrations. However, he also sought and found a universal brotherhood in in all people…He did not cultivate a superman image. He was a simple direct man who would not want to be remembered by some…grandiose monument…For me the essence of his ideals, sensitivity and eloquence seems to be communicated and focused through his head.”

-Month Long Exhibit-

In addition to the “Making of a Monument” exhibit, the month long display will feature multiple presentations including the Michigan Avenue YMCA and the Buffalo African American Museum Committee; the Michigan Street Heritage Corridor, the Michigan Street Baptist Church and The Nash House; The Colored Musicians Club and WUFO 96.5; and the African American Cultural Center Drummer and Dancers.

The public will be pleased with the wealth of information the Buffalo African American Museum has put together.

“Please come to the downtown Library during the month of February and view these displays,” urged the Museum Committee. “Ask questions, take pictures and share the information you receive with others. All of us involved in this thank you for your support and want to see you there!”