Tremendous Progress Made On First National Monument To Honor African American Veterans

Pictured: American Legion members from Jesse Clipper Post 430 were among those who helped break ground for a Buffalo memorial that will pay tribute to African American veterans. From left are: Rev. Eugene L. Pierce, past post commander; Perry Civils, post sgt.-at-arms; Erie County Adjutant Jim Bojanowski; Post Commander Paulette Woods; Paul Woods, WWII coordinator; State Assemblywoman Chrystal Peoples-Stokes; Henry Curtis, post adjutant and past post commander; and Deacon Michael Davis, post chaplain.

Announced Veterans Day 2017 by Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, project continues toward a 2020 completion timeline

By Independence Day 2020, Buffalo  will be home to the United States’ first monument that honors all African American Veterans. The African American Veterans Monument, to be located at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park, will recognize the contributions of African Americans who have served and are currently serving in all five branches of the military, during war and in peace times. African Americans have fought in all 12 of the United States’ military conflicts since the country’s first, whether they enlisted voluntarily or were drafted.

 A committee of local African American Veterans, African American historians, Watts Engineering and Uniland Development have led the planning for the African American Veterans Monument with the support and convening of the office of Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

“I am humbled to work alongside the tireless volunteers whose idea it was to establish the first monument of its kind right here in Buffalo,” said Warren Galloway, Chair of the African American Veterans Monument Committee and Veteran of the US Air Force. “The idea was birthed by the Erie County Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, a passion project envisioned by the late Fern Beavers. Since early 2017, we’ve laid the groundwork for planning what will be the first monument of its kind in our country. With ambitious goals such as this timelines fluctuate but we are now on schedule for July 2020 unveiling.”

To date, the committee has raised $1.45 million toward its $1.6 million goal that will cover incidentals, contingencies and an endowment for long-term repairs and maintenance.

“The community has been very gracious and supportive of this project, recognizing the importance and gravity it represents” said Galloway. “I am confident that our small gap in funding will be closed by the end of 2019.”

The design of the African American Veterans Monument is a matrix, serving as both a timeline and map of longitudinal coordinates. Each of the 12 black concrete pillars that will be 10 feet tall, and 3 feet wide, are placed in a chronological sequence, corresponding to the dates that each of the country’s 12 military conflicts took place. The matrix’s longitudinal coordinates represent the location where the war began. The spacing between the pillars represent peace times between each war.

The tops of the 12 black concrete pillars will illuminate, representing the candles that families would put in their windows as a beacon to guide a soldier home. The light emanating from the top of each pillar will continuously glow as an eternal reminder of the commitments made by African American Veterans. The monument’s design was created by Solid 716.

Construction of the monument will begin in the spring once the total budget for the project is fundraised. The community can honor a Veteran through the purchase of an engraved brick paver that will line the walkways of the monument for $250.

For more information visit aavmwny.org, email info@aavmwny.org or call 716-800-1137.