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Uncrowned Queens celebrates 20th anniversary by preserving history

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Mike Desmond
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WBFO News

Buffalo's Uncrowned Queens celebrated their 20th anniversary by honoring local people and groups who help make sure all segments of the local community are recognized and remembered.

Uncrowned Queens Institute preserves the artifacts and the remembrances of the people of African-American Buffalo and Western New York. It also helps young people further their education, with scholarships.

On Thursday, the group presented Culture Keeper awards to teacher, historian and writer Eva Doyle;  WUFO CEO Sheila Brown; Juneteenth Festival President Marcus Brown; and Niagara Falls Chapter The Links.

Links co-founder Barbara Seals Nevergold said leaders should not be forgotten.

"We continue to ask the community to provide those histories, but we also do research, for instance, on the first African American teacher in Buffalo who was hired in 1897, and I'm currently writing her biography because no one knows about Ida Dora Fairbush, but they will," she said.

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Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
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WBFO News

As the African American population has spread across Erie County, Doyle said she has been asked to come out and lecture. 

"I get a lot of invitations from other districts," Doyle said. "As a matter of fact, before I came here tonight, I got an invitation to speak in February, because people start calling me now, and I got one to speak in West Seneca. I've spoken in Orchard Park, Tonawanda, Cheektowaga."

Juneteenth President Marcus Brown said young people are interested in the summer celebration in both the city and suburbs.

"There's one thing that we have in common, we're still Black. No matter where we go, we're still Black. And, we still run into the same problems we're had in the '50s and '60s. So, we still have the same goals of reaching out, ultimate freedoms, gaining our freedoms, education, letting people know what we're all about," Brown said.

In addition to the awards, Uncrowned Queens also presented scholarships to two local high school students and honored the predecessor group, The Women's Pavilion, Pan Am 2001.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.