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Celebrating MLK’s legacy: A story of discrimination

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library hosted the 35th Annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Thursday in downtown Buffalo.  The event featured poetry, storytelling, dance and music.   Some Buffalo School students were in the audience learning about the famous civil rights leader.

Buffalo's Eva Doyle engaged students through a quick history lesson.  Doyle is a longtime columnist, book author and educator, known for her column in the Buffalo Criterion called "Eye on History." Doyle is an expert on African American history and shared some of it with the students.

"I actually get goosebumps  when I think of this celebration every year because it truly is community driver.  That's the essence of Dr. Martin Luther King.  It's all about community," said Mary Jean Jakubowski, the director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system. 

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
MLK celebrations at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

Jakubowksi said the history bridges the younger generations to the great leadership and battle for freedoms fought by King.

"And there were many, many things that happened throughout our history that are absolutely horrific things and how people were treated simply because of the color of their skin," said Jakubowski.

Buffalo's deputy mayor, Ellen Grant, was among a number of local African-American leaders who shared stories of discrimination.

Grant told the children that when she was just 12 and visiting her uncle in North Carolina she was turned away at store where she just wanted to buy a candy bar.

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
City of Buffalo Deputy Mayor Ellen Grant shared her story of discrimination as a young woman in the south

Grant said a white man make a derogatory comment to her and she was told to go to a nearby story for  blacks only.  Grant said it had no candy and a dirt floor.

When Grant told her uncle the story he told, he said that's the "time we're living in" and advised her to get an education. She took his advice and today serves in a top City Hall job.