Cleanup of Buffalo's African American Heritage Corridor to reflect the legacy of MLK
Faustenia Morrow, founder of Monarch of Infinite Possibilities LLC, a consulting firm working with the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, has been doing a community cleanup in the corridor since 2021. Morrow says she got the idea from an unlikely source: the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capital.
“I was suppose to attend the inauguration and because of all the activities around that, they cancelled most of the activities and I was not able to attend. I always participate in the National Day of Service when I’m in D.C., and I said, 'You know what? I wonder what’s going on at home in the community," Morrow said.
Morrow put the word out on social media and was hopeful that she could get at least 10 people to sign up, but on the day of service, 20 people showed up from different ages ready to participate.
“My nephew was one of those young people who participated, and the next year as we were driving down by the corridor my nephew said, 'Are we going to do the cleanup again, auntie?' I really enjoyed it. Now he’s 9 and I said, 'If he wants to do it, yes, we’re going to do it again,'” she said.
Morrow said because of a storm all Martin Luther King Jr. Day events were cancelled in 2022. Sixty people still showed up, so the planned cleanup turned into a snow removal.
“We couldn’t get to any of the trash because it was covered in snow and ice. We partnered with the Corridor and the city and we cleaned up at about six different sites and it was fantastic,” said Morrow.
For this year, Morrow said there will be a cleanup but there are also indoor volunteer activities planned.
“We are going to be doing some painting projects indoors. As a matter of fact, the Bethel AME Church, they have a youth lounge and they need the youth lounge painted. We have another church where they wanted to do a recycling project, but actually because of the blizzard they have lots of debris that needs to be cleaned up,” she said.
For Jennifer Parker, who runs a public relations firm that also works with the Corridor, said the effects of the blizzard gave her the idea to do the first ever blanket drive.
“I was without heat for 36 hours and some other team members were without heat, so we got together and I said, 'Gosh, extra blankets would probably help people. The Executive Director Terry Alford said, 'Yes, I agree,'" Parker said.
Parker said hearing stories from seniors and family members about how cold they were and having to choose between warmth and food also weighed on her to do something.
“Because it’s so expensive when they say prep for the winter, prep for the storm, that cost a lot of money,” she said.
New blankets are being accepted through January 16 and can be dropped off at the Michigan Street African American Corridor temporary office at Church at 111 Genesee Suite 401 or WUFO Radio at 143 Broadway St. The blankets will be given out at Michigan Street Baptist Church from noon to 4 p.m., Monday.
Parker said she sees the blanket drive being held every year for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
“We live in Buffalo and the need is going to continue. Like I said it’s an economic need as well as a warmth need,” Parker said.
Morrow said 70 people have signed up for this Monday’s Day of Service cleanup.
“The beauty of our day of service is that it attracts people from all walks, from all over Western New York, as Dr. King would say every color of every hue every social economic background, environmentalists, in helping faith based communities and churches so we’re going to be one big happy family all in the name of supporting the dreamer, Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Morrow.
Morrow says she’d like to see more communities work together to do impactful projects like the ones being done on the Day of Service.
Those interested in participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service can do so by going to michiganstreetbuffalo.org.