pictured above: Lillion Batchelor (seated) founded Buffalo Quarters Historical Society in 1995. Her purpose was to increase national and international awareness of the significant role Buffalo played in the Underground Railroad movement. The Society presents annual recreations of historical events through drama and music culminating in the Niagara River Crossing into Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. There is a garden erected in the park in her honor. But she can’t use the restroom or visit the museum: both closed. George Johnson, President of the Friends of Broderick Park, standing far left.
This Thursday , July 7 and Sunday, July 10, from 5-8 p.m. the Friends of Broderick Park will kick off their 2022 Summer Freedom Celebration, “Healing By the Water,” in historic Broderick Park at the Foot of Ferry.
Sponsored by over 20 organizations, the free event – which will take place every Thursday and Sunday thru September 29 – will host live bands and premier DJ’s food trucks, a fish fry, vendors and healing-centered activities . It’s just one of the several family-oriented, culturally rich activities sponsored by The Friends and other community organizations. But the Friends attempt to continue to keep the focus on Broderick Park as a historic destination point has not been easy.
Broderick Park is sacred ground, largely ignored by the City of Buffalo. It was the point of departure for countless enslaved Africans seeking freedom to Canada. A small, but significant museum has been developed in the park to tell the story of the Underground Railroad. And the park’s landmark scenery, the territorial spirits and its proximity to the spiritual waters is unique and unmatched in this area.
George Johnson and Friends of Broderick Park have basically declared themselves the stewards of this important landmark. The most recent slap in the face? The restrooms are not open to the public and filthy Porta Potties have been set up as a replacement. The historical museum is also closed to the public; so “our story” is not accessible.
The city’s Office of Special Events is asking for $1,000 before the event can be fully approved by the Special Events Advisory Committee (Payment to the City of Buffalo $500 Special Events Application Fee/Seasonal Permit and $500 Sanitation).
The Friends of Broderick Park’s response?
“This is what they want to charge us for the use of the Park, but we have to use portable bathrooms for all the people that’s there. And the Museum is not Open. The City says that it’s because there’s no Concessionist. Since Juneteenth we’ve been Using Porta Potties down in the Park. The Maafa Memorial, Family Fishing Days, Slow Roll, Douville college, and Others. The Park hasn’t been cleaned properly. The students from McKinley High School planted the Flowers in the Park that can’t be Watered. There have been more than thousands of people from all around the City and from out of town that visited the Park. No Bathrooms, No Museum, No Running Water. This is the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, SACRED GROUNDS . We had Our Volunteers cleaning the Porta Potty EVERY HALF HOUR, this is not Right. So Exactly What are we PAYING FOR ?”