What started as a dispute between two Black youths exploded during the summer of 1967 in Buffalo, NY - and before long, thousands of Black people were in the streets. The riot was the violent outcome of decades of discrimination, disinvestment, and disrespect.
When the dust settled just over a week later, hundreds of riot police had been dispatched, dozens of people were injured, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage had occurred.
Across the country, hundreds of “race riots” took place that summer. In Buffalo, as elsewhere, Black communities were tired of substandard education and housing, discriminatory policing, and a lack of job opportunities.
The Civil Rights Act had been in place for years - but progress, even in Northern states like New York, was slow or sometimes absent completely.
Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking in Buffalo a few months later, promoted non-violence - but also explained that “a riot is the language of the unheard… as long as justice is postponed, we will be on the verge of social destruction.”
As protests continue to erupt around the country today, as we continue to fight for truth, justice, freedom - we can remember our forebears, whose intense, difficult struggle has enabled the work that we’re able to do today!