by James J. Coughlin
"City of Distant Neighbors" is intended as an accessible history for those seeking to change the numerous inequalities wrought by Buffalo, New York's racial segregation. It is a work of love and commitment to the Buffalo community. The inspiration for "City of Distant Neighbors" was born from three injustices impacting Buffalo's Black community. First, the heinous and tragic Jefferson Avenue Tops massacre on May 14, 2022 by a white supremacist terrorist, was a targeted attack aimed at Black Buffalonians that Buffalo to its core. Amid mourning May 14th, Buffalonians of all backgrounds began asking "how did Buffalo, a city that purports to be the 'City of Good Neighbors' get to be so segregated?" Yet as many sought to "choose love", the bare minimum was done to address Buffalo's systemic racism and segregation. On December 23, 2022, an abysmally prepared Buffalo incurred a second injustice, the cataclysmic "Christmas" blizzard, claiming an estimated forty-seven lives, disproportionately impacted the city's East Side. Buffalo's 2022 Christmas Blizzard once again brought the city's residential segregation to the forefront of conversation.
This work of history attempts to trace the historical roots and processes of Buffalo's racialized residential segregation. It is not intended to be a complete or holistic history which leads up to the present. Rather, the years 1934 through 1961 are emphasized because an effort was made by federal and local government, Buffalo's real estate industry, and white Buffalonians to segregate Buffalo's Burgeoning Black population. Futhermore, it seeks to illuminate the experiences and resistance of everyday, yet extraordinary, Black Buffalonians who wanted their city to live up to its City of Good Neighbors moniker. Also of note, is that "City of Good Neighbors" goes not discuss the Kensington Expressway's, "the 33's", construction, which stands as the most visible example of Buffalo's segregation. Rather, preceding events and processes before the Kensington's construction show how Buffalo's segregation was well underway. Lastly, by hoping to provide an accessible history, "City of Good Neighbors" seeks to be a political education tool for those wanting to address Buffalo's third injustice, the detrimental impacts of Buffalo's segregation. It is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the May 14th, 2022 Tops massacre and the 2022 Christmas Blizzard.
Let us build a new Buffalo together,
James. J Coughlin
May 14th, 2023