Published March 2021
In February 2021, Explore Buffalo undertook a new program for our volunteers: Community Stories Week. During that week, our volunteers learned more about the diverse history of our city through presentations by four community organizations: the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor; Journey’s End Refugee Services; Native American Community Services; and the Hispanic Heritage Council. We are grateful to these partner organizations for taking time to share their stories and perspectives, and we are enthusiastic about building long-lasting relationships with them and other community groups.
As we develop new tours and update existing tours, we commit to continued collaboration with partners across our community. We are working to make our entire organization, including our Board of Directors, more representative of the community we serve. As we continue this ongoing process of becoming a more inclusive organization, we welcome the input and feedback of our community. We know that this takes time, and we ask for your support as we continue forward.
In the months since our community and the nation confronted the reality of both historical and modern-day injustice in June 2020, Explore Buffalo has worked to uphold our pledge to become a more inclusive organization. We remain steadfast in our belief that Black Lives Matter, and in our resolve to better reflect the contributions of people of color to the history of our community. While we have made progress, there is much more to do – and we are committed to providing updates along the way.
As storytellers of local history, we know that our words matter. When we prepare a tour or presentation, we choose the stories that are told. The ripple effect from those stories can be profound: we influence which community stories are remembered for years to come by local students, Western New York residents, and visitors from around the globe. We recognize that the diversity of our community has not been fully represented in the stories we have shared.
Our Western New York community has an incredible diversity of people of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, physical abilities, and other social or economic realities. For our programs to become more inclusive of our entire community, we need to understand what we do not know and get acquainted with what is not familiar. And to do that, we are committed to listening, to learning, and to taking action to be an inclusive organization.