Local historic landmark receives National African American Civil Rights Grant
Congressman Brian Higgins announced $204,845 in federal funding for the Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition for protection and rehabilitation of the Michigan Street Baptist Church. The funding is provided through the National Park Service’s (NPS) African American Civil Rights Grant Program.
“This award recognizes the Michigan Street Baptist Church as a site of national significance and provides federal resources to preserve the building and expand opportunities for people to learn more about the critical role the church played in America’s history,” Higgins said.
Lillie V. Wiley-Upshaw, chair of the Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition, said, "Our board is so pleased to receive this grant. The Michigan Street Baptist Church is a national treasure and her story is integral to the African-American story that is told in cities across this country. First, as a home for freedom-seekers before, during and after the Civil War, and then, as incubator for progressive movements in the City of Buffalo, New York, the Michigan Street Baptist Church as stood as a beacon in the storm for 175 years.
“The African-American Civil Rights Grant will help us restore elements of the church's original construction and design to continue to tell the story of the church and her members to future generations."
Built in 1845, Buffalo’s Michigan Street Baptist Church has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. The site served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and a central meeting place for civil rights leaders. In 2018, the Michigan Street Baptist Church was added to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a coordinated effort to preserve America’s historic treasures and educate the public.
The longtime pastor of the church was Rev. Dr. J. Edward Nash. Higgins recently visited the Nash house residence and spoke about the work of Rev. Nash and the Michigan Street Baptist Church on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The Michigan Street Baptist Church was one of only 51 recipients sharing just over $14 million nationwide, and the only grant recipient in New York.
The Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 2001, and owner of the historic Michigan Street Baptist Church, located at 511 Michigan Ave. Its mission is to promote and protect the Michigan Street Baptist Church building as a beacon of freedom, and tell its stories from its founding in 1845 through today to inspire and educate future generations. For more information, visit www.michiganstreetbaptistchurch.org.