pictured : Archway in the African American Heritage Corridor designed by African American Woman Artist / Sculptor Valeria Cray
The long awaited manifestation of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor as a vibrant local heritage attraction and world class cultural destination spot may be one step closer to becoming a reality.
The Heritage Corridor Commission has announced the launch of a community-driven strategic planning process which will guide the redevelopment and future of the Corridor.
As part of the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund and East Side Avenues initiative, a Strategic Action Plan will be developed through a 12-month community-building process, to guide the Corridor in creating a strong, unified tourism destination that promotes key cultural and historic assets including the Michigan Street Baptist Church, the Nash House Museum, the Colored Musicians Club, and WUFO Radio and Black Radio History Collective.
A series of virtual public input meetings will be held in April and May of 2021 and will provide the opportunity for community members to inform the planning process and provide direct input. The planning process encourages local businesses, neighborhood residents, and nearby service providers to participate through these public meetings. Input from community members will guide improvements to the benefit of the Corridor and the region.
Information on how to participate in the virtual input sessions, along with dates and planning documents, can be found at www.michiganstreetbuffalo.org/planning .
Moody Nolan, a national design firm with an office in New York, was selected by the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission to lead the planning and Strategic Action Plan development. .
Moody Nolan is the nation’s largest African American-owned and operated design firm with 11 offices in the U.S. It has a long history of serving clients with a keen knowledge of cultural sensitivities as well as a deep understanding of the impact its work has on individuals and communities. Moody Nolan’s work is reflective of the people who will live, learn, and heal in the spaces it creates. Its work has been lauded with more than 330 design citations and significant awards, most recently received the 2021 AIA Architecture Firm Award.
“The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor sites reflect the richness of African American history and culture which is deeply embedded in the American story of perseverance,” says Latoya Nelson Kamdang, director of New York operations for Moody Nolan. “With our firm’s national expertise on cultural projects, we are energized by the opportunity to work with the community to identify ways to celebrate the people, the places, and the movements.”
The neighborhood along Michigan Avenue plays a unique role in local and national African American history, including its involvement in the Underground Railroad, homes of residents in the “Niagara Movement” (precursor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons), a venue that helped shape the Jazz Age, and ongoing association with the Civil Rights Movement.
“Since this last spring, despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic, our Heritage Corridor has realized a great deal of momentum…Today’s announcement only lends further to the excitement as our Corridor continues its transformation into the economic, cultural and social success we all know it can be,” stated Terry Alford, MSAAHCC Executive Director.
The public will be involved throughout all stages of the planning process. Public meetings will be led by Moody Nolan to seek to understand community members’ needs, aspirations for the Corridor, and leverage participants’ ideas. Final public review sessions will be held to ensure the goals of the Plan reflect the vision of the stakeholders and Corridor community.