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Artistic archway to help connect Buffalo to African-American heritage and history

Thursday afternoon marked the groundbreaking of the African-American Heritage Corridor Archway over Michigan Avenue. Valeria Cray, the arch’s designer, said the project is meant to help the community better understand Buffalo’s connection to African-American heritage and history.

“This archway stands for not just this corridor, but anyone that has been captured, bound, chained, trying to get out of depression and trying to find a way to freedom,” said Cray.

Cray said the design will feature a family with a woman holding a baby, which symbolizes the creation of life.

“My mother told me when I was a little kid, she said when God created artists, he made something special of this earth. Because without music, dance, theater, sculpture, painting… it wouldn’t be a world we live and care (about). But since we have art here, art brings the world together and brings the world peace,” Cray said.

Corridor Interim Chair George Scott said he is excited to see this project become a reality.

“This is something that hopefully will bring a lot of people from all over and by having this archway, at least now they know where they can find this historic area,” Scott said.

The estimated total cost of the arch is $322,000 dollars.

“It’s going to quite frankly be a reminder to the rest of the world that Buffalo was front and center throughout the course of history,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy. “Throughout the civil rights movement. Throughout the Underground Railroad as we stand right in front of the Michigan Street Baptist Church.”

The project is expected to be finished by the spring of 2019.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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