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New poet laureate, historian appointed by City of Buffalo

(from left to right) Buffalo Historian Lindsey Lauren Visser, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo Poet Laureate Aitina Fareed-Cooke and former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello
Thomas O'Neil-White
/
WBFO News
(from left to right) Buffalo Historian Lindsey Lauren Visser, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo Poet Laureate Aitina Fareed-Cooke and former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello

The City of Buffalo welcomed two women to the positions of poet laureate and historian Monday during a ceremony at City Hall.

Aitina Fareed-Cooke serves as the city’s second poet laureate following Jillian Hanesworth. Lindsey Lauren Visser is a local historian and researcher.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown called the appointments a very special occasion and the positions are being filled by two very dynamic young women.

“Both women are exceptional in their commitment to our great city,” he said, “And we couldn't have picked a better time than Women's History Month to appoint them.”

Fareed-Cooke said she takes her life experiences and skills and utilize them in a way that be spread throughout the city in an artistic fashion.

“This is what I'm excited the most to do,” she said. “To take everything, a collection of all the things that I've learned, my experiences, not just in education, but just life coming from a background of being a foster child. Coming from a background of being adopted. Being a mother, being a wife. Being a creative, being an educator. Being someone who uplifts the next generation of creatives. I get to take all of these experiences, just like paint and I'll get to paint the canvas. And my hope is that the canvas that is created throughout this year, and perhaps another, my hope is that you all felt something but not only felt something, but chose to do something about how you feel.”

Visser specializes in the history of the Western New York region. She has been a writer and contributor for The Buffalo History Museum Podcast and the New York Minute in History Podcast.

She said New York is one of the few states in the country that is unequivocal in its efforts in preserving its history and accessibility of the stories of its people.

“More than 100 years ago, [New York State] made a commitment in the form of the Historians Law to preserve the artifacts, sites and documents that have proven so pivotal to the formation of our communities,” Visser said. “For more than 200 years, we have been fortunate to have organizations, individuals and groups who have maintained the records of our city. The city of Buffalo Historian is tasked with capitalizing on the good work of the many organizations that for so long have carried the torch in preserving and telling the stories of our community. The next decade serves as the most tangible opportunity to remind New York state and the nation at large of the importance of the people of Buffalo.”

The next decade will see the Erie Canal bicentennial in 2025. Freedom 2027 which celebrates the state’s abolition of slavery and Buffalo’s bicentennial in 2032.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.