Telling Our Stories: Doug Ruffin Launches The Buffalo History Channel on YouTube ; Continuing the Mission to Tell Stories about Buffalo Through His Lens

photos by Cams Banks

Since his relocation from his beloved City of Buffalo for his new digs in Prince Georges County MD., filmmaker Doug Ruffin has made some impressive strides.  We caught up with him recently at The Freedom Wall, one of his favorite intersections of civil rights history told in murals. He was in town for a  brief visit and was kind enough to bring us up to date  since completing his last project “67:Buffalo Uprising,” a film that takes a look back on the impact of the 1967 Riot that took place in the city’s cold spring area. 

“Prior to COVID I had a screening for my latest film “67: Buffalo Uprising” at Buffalo State College. Once COVID-19 came into being, I had to cancel

Screen Shot from Ruffin’s film 67 Buffalo Uprising launched in march 2020

a huge screening being planned for an African American Festival in Olean, NY back in May of this year . I have held off on doing anything online or streaming because I was waiting this quarantine process out. I have received a number of inquiries about the film, especially in light of the recent unrest which took place in Buffalo at the start of the summer.”

Outside of his last film, In reflecting on his library of work, Doug talked about an idea he had at the beginning of 2020 to create a second YouTube channel that would showcase both seen and never before seen projects he’s produced  over the years. In doing a bit of organizing of content that channel eventually  morphed into what is now available on YouTube as  The Buffalo History Channel.

“Because it was the start of the quarantine and I was going to have plenty of time on my hands…I began uploading much of my old content such as The B.U.I.L.D. Documentary Series, Model Cities, Buffalo Street Gangs, then followed it with old TV shows and never before seen interviews with Alnisa & Simba and before I knew it the channel was getting a lot of traffic because I also share the videos on Facebook. It began to take on a life of its  own” he said. 

Despite the plethora of channels on YouTube that highlight Buffalo’s history, there are none that exist as up close and personal with Buffalo’s Black community than through Doug Ruffin’s lens on The Buffalo History Channel.   “The Buffalo History Channel was intended to be a networking tool for me as I am looking to connect with The Smithsonian out here in DC…,” explained Doug. “ I also had a ton of work that I had never put out there.” 

Filmmaker Doug Ruffin at Buffalo Freedom Wall Summer of 2020 photo by Cams Banks

Be it narratives or early exclusive interviews with living legends that he completed in his early 20’s, to newer compositions about people and places that are rich with history of the community, Doug’s  timeline of stories presented on this new channel rolls out in a  somewhat episodic manner making you want to return to see what he’s loaded, to learn  more about what happened next. As he points out,  “It’s important to learn about where you live, You never know what you might see, you may find out something about your family members. It’s an opportunity to find out about rare stories you won’t hear anywhere else.” 

Since his first channel under his company Urban Legacy Filmworks and now his new adventure with The Buffalo History Channel, Doug has garnered the interest of a diverse following from all communities (Black, Brown, White ) who are taking a keen interest in learning more about the city’s Black Community History the way he tells it,  including the younger generation.

“Over the years I have had a number of youth say that they were inspired by my work, and throughout the years has transcended beyond the Black community… Right now the channel has garnered a tremendous amount of momentum with every piece of content that I add. Most of the footage is archival. But I am now shooting new content, I have also done a series of Zoom Interviews & Livestream interviews. I will soon be producing ‘Original Content’ on the History Channel, the first of which being on The history of The Apollo Theatre.  ( See the Apollo video at end of article)

With hopes for support for the channel from the City of Buffalo, the filmmaker has no plans of delaying his vision to stretch beyond the ever popular platform and become more accessible and interactive for more audience education engagement . “YouTube is just a starting point, I am currently contemplating expanding to either a website, streaming service or broadcasting. I’m considering all options. For better or for worse, this virtual space is the future and it’s here to stay. I’m trying to adapt an do my part to advance in it.”

 Doug said he hopes 2021 will bring back the opportunities he had lined up for speaking engagements, screenings and local festivals making sure everyone he touches is able to carry a little bit of Buffalo’s history with them . “ZOOM and Livestreaming for me has been a Godsend. I have been able to expand on a series of interviews which I otherwise would have had a hard time scheduling and taking equipment to. I have interviewed Kevin Blackford, the founder of the Buffalo Chapter for The Black Panther Party, and Jimi Lyons who talked about his Father Jimi Lyons, Sr. who was the first African American Radio Personality in Buffalo.”

The Channel can be found on YouTube by searching  under The Buffalo History Channel. 

You can  also find Doug @urbanlegacyfilmworks on Facebook  on on IG a or you might catch him on one of his visits home shooting around Buffalo continuing his mission to tell factual, meaningful and inspirational stories of his beloved community and city. -l.h.

CHECK Out The Latest Upload on The Buffalo History Channel about The Apollo Theatre Below!