Welcome to the Buffalo Syllabus

In the immediate aftermath of the Buffalo Mass Shooting, scholars, activists, politicians, and local officials took to social media to name the horrendous event as a white supremacist attack and uplift the needs of the community directly impacted–Buffalo’s Eastside residents. J Coley, a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University at Buffalo, was among those using their platform to gather and circulate information on local mutual aids. Coley’s expertise in the historical and contemporary racial residential segregation of the city came to the forefront when they created Twitter threads on this topic. One of Coley’s followers tweeted about possibly having a #BuffaloSyllabus for the general public to learn more about this history, and more importantly, Buffalo’s Black community. Coley tweeted a call for Black scholars and local activists interested in creating a #BuffaloSyllabus. Tiana U. WilsonWilliam Jamal Richardson, and Dr. Robert Mays, scholars born and raised in Buffalo, answered the call. Together, Coley, Wilson, Richardson, and Mays formed the Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective on May 18, 2022.

The Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective met over the course of three months to research and collect readings on different aspects relevant to Buffalo’s Black community. Inspired by the #FergusonSyllabus and #CharlestonSyllabus, the #BuffaloSyllabus seeks to carry on the mission and build upon digital knowledge. We stand in solidarity with the community of Ferguson, MO, and Charleston, SC and we honor their contribution to the world. The Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective compiled a list of articles, books, op-eds, policy reports, poems, and media on different themes to contextualize the social, economic, and political climate of Buffalo today. This list makes up the #BuffaloSyllabus, which the collective saw as an opportunity to center the experiences of Black people in Western New York. The intended audience of this list is Buffalo’s Black community, local educators, politicians, communities of color allies, organizers, and anyone else interested in learning more about that “Rust Belt Resilience.” This list is not meant to be exhaustive–you will find omissions.

The collective dedicates this syllabus to the community members lost: Ruth Whitfield, Aaron Salter Jr., Pearl Young, Roberta A. Drury, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Andre Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Geraldine Chapman Talley, and Margus D. Morrison. Consider this reading list a love letter to Black Buffalo.

We thank Robert Adelman, Anna Blatto, Jared Strohl, and Steve Peraza for their contribution.