Harambee! Celebration of Life For Community Icon Katherine “Kat” Massey 

“How does one begin to describe this woman with the beautiful soul who was an advocate for all?” -Tee

Kat Massey would have been pleased with her Home going services -perhaps even surprised by the tremendous outpouring of love and respect shown to her during the  two and a half hour service at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on Monday.

That’s because Katherine “Kat” Massey  dedicated her life’s work to her community and her family  unconditionally.

Her obituary, which she wrote herself in 2012, did not list a host of awards and high accomplishments. It  did not, for example,  talk about the outstanding contributions she made to this newspaper  over the years, although  she was an exceptional researcher, writer  and staunch supporter of the Black press (both the Challenger and The Criterion). Our “honorary  editor at large,”  was an example of  the kind of  sustainable contribution  that’s helped define us as a community voice in every sense of the word. Her story, as told by herself,  is just a true and simple, yet an impressive and heartfelt  remembrance of her “life, legacy and Service.” 

Kat was   a familiar presence at all the cultural events  such as Kwanzaa and   Juneteenth and a supporter of the arts. 

In 2020 I “discovered” a cultural treasure. Each panel along the walls of the  expressway along Cherry Street was adorned with an African adinkra symbol  and its meaning. I learned on Monday that those culturally enriched walls were proposed by Kat who worked with the city until her  “vision” materialized. 

She loved her people and her culture and  made sure  that it was well represented at her Celebration of Life.  Her casket was beautifully draped in   brilliantly colored African Kente cloth and her pall bearers wore matching Kente bands around the sleeves of their black shirts.

The service opened with host pastor Reverend Frank Bostic  of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist,   a close family friend, who  referred to Kat as  ”a soldier on the battlefield…a soldier in the  community for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

The accolades continued from Congressman  Brian  Higgins, State Senator Tim Kennedy, Erie County Legislative Chairwoman  April Baskin , Comptroller Barbara Miller Williams  and Mayor Byron Brown.

 A special guest, Civil Rights leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and a leader of the Million Man March, described Kat as a “freedom fighting journalist. ” 

“The greatest way we can pay our respects to Kat Massey is to keep her spirt alive  by keeping her journalism alive,” he said. 

Funeral Proceedings for Katherine “Kat” Massey

Dr. Chavis also had praise for Buffalo’s   resilient  Black  community which, in the wake of  the horrific massacre of ten of its beloved citizens, did not resort to violence.

“I’m so thankful that in our anger ,in our pain and suffering ,we didn’t decide to destroy our community,” he said. “Buffalo is a different place…the rest of the country can learn from Buffalo…learn from Katherine Massey.”

Overseer Alan R. Core , Pastor  of First Centennial Baptist Church, delivered  the kind of eulogy Kat would have stood and cheered for; perhaps even written  about because he spoke truth to power, taking  his message beyond simply eulogizing her – to using her values to teach and direct the beloved community she left behind.

He focused on   “tragedy, trauma and triumph.”; not only the tragic massacre but the tragedies before the massacre; the  ongoing inequities   and selfish leadership in our community and the disrespect and lack of  caring for one another.

“We don’t need to build another stadium until we build Jefferson ,” he said to thunderous applause.   “I want to see it vibrant again”…adding that the potholes and poor condition of the street   is a tragedy within itself. 

 He described the  trauma of White Supremacy and racism as complex, but nothing new.

“I submit to you that  we’ve got to deal with Goliath and his brothers,” he quipped.

“But right now we’ve got to  be allowed to heal.” 

“We’ve not broken one window…burned one building…and the nation  should take note that we are a true model of peace…..because we know that God will bring us justice,” he added.

“We must mourn but we must not self-destruct. We’re going to raise the banner ‘I’m Black and I’m proud!’   We are moving from desperation to destiny!”

There were shouts of Harambee ! (Let’s all pull together) and fists in the air as Kat was led from the church to her final resting place in Forest Lawn.

Katherine “Kat” Massey,   at 72-years young,  like the nine other precious souls we lost    in the Tops Massacre May 14, was taken from us all too suddenly…all too soon at  the hands of a hateful racist with a gun.

Ironically, the last article  Kat submitted talked about the proliferation of guns  and  violence in our community and how she hoped that something would be done about it …soon.