From the Director . . .
Our production team: David Bernstein, Steve Weiner, Niagara movement photo Zvia Ratz, and I, have just returned from Buffalo, New York where I inter viewed unsung heroes for "The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights" oral history project. There we eagerly explored the rich history, known and unknown, of the fight for justice! The Buffalo Niagara area was a major hub in the Underground Railroad – where slaves could swim, boat, or cross a suspension bridge into Canada – and freedom! In 1905, the Niagara Movement was founded by W.E.B. Du Bois and others, to achieve full equality for people of African descent. This movement led to the founding of the NAACP in 1909. We're grateful to Frank B. Mesiah, president of Buffalo NAACP for providing documents, like this news story, about this important history.
       An aim of the oral history project is given clarity and beautiful form by these musical lines from the poem "Meant To Be" by Eli Siegel:
              And use the past
             To be refreshed,
             As it was meant to be –
             Used now.

How can we use the past to be refreshed? One way is to learn about people who used injustice that they themselves endured not to hate the world, but to fight for justice to others!
       There are men and women in the Buffalo area whose courageous work for civil rights is hardly known. We want to change that. For example, Rev. Eugene L. Pierce, originally from Mississippi. His parents were activists and friends of Medgar Evers, and their work was pivotal in fighting racist brutality and segregation. Rev. Pierce himself came to Buffalo as a teenager, served in the U.S. military, and went on to challenge racial inequality in both the North and South, as to employment, government representation, and the criminal justice system.

      Rev. Eugene L. Pierce, Dr. Monroe Fordham, Lorraine Hansberry, Philip Rose
   Also interviewed was Buffalo native Terrence L. Melvin, Secretary-Treasurer of the 2.5 million member New York State AFL-CIO. His labor career began as a member of Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 427 at the Western New York Developmental Center, and he later became president of the Local. CSEA represents over 250,000 state, county, municipal and private sector workers throughout New York state. Mr. Melvin, a long-time labor and community activist, was elected in 1996 as Director of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) Region One, representing unionists in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada. Last May he was elected president of CBTU president, succeeding William (Bill) Lucy, who had held that position since he co-founded CBTU in 1972.
      My colleagues and I were proud to dedicate the Buffalo trip to the memory of the late Dr. Monroe Fordham (Oct. 11, 1939 - June 13, 2012), historian, professor at Buffalo State College, and founding member of the Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier. I came to know Dr. Fordham as editor of the scholarly journal, Afro-Americans in New York Life and History. He published my articles, "Remembering the Civil Rights Struggle in Brooklyn, New York," and "A Broadway Journey against Racism," my interview with Philip Rose, producer of Lorraine Hansberry's"A Raisin in the Sun," the first Broadway play written by an African American woman. (story continues in column 2)