Buffalo’s Rich History with the Civil Rights Movement

Andrew Zebrun III submitted this story from Aspire of WNY’s Transportation Department. Thank you for sharing your story, Andrew!

In honor of Black History Month, I’d like everyone to know just how important Buffalo, NY, has been in the struggle for Civil Rights.

A local Civil Rights leader, J. Edward Nash, and his wife, Frances, were local & national figures in the Civil Rights Movement. They hosted Civil Rights leaders from all over the nation in their home at 36 Nash St., now a museum on the National List of Historic Places.

I learned about our region’s rich history in the Civil Rights arena from Rev. J. Edward’s wife, Frances Jackson Nash. In the 1980s, I worked for Laidlaw Transportation, now First Student School Busing. Frances has fallen ill and couldn’t walk down her steps. So, I took her in a wheelchair for medical treatment. I also regularly ran to UCPA (Aspire of WNY’s former entity name) at 7 Community Drive and brought people to day habilitation programs, including an individual named Mike Hasenfuss. Mike is currently on the Aspire of WNY board of directors, and I bring him to meetings sometimes. He remembered me, my van, and everyone on the run from 1983!

Frances would take me on tours of her historic home and regal me with stories of all the famous visitors the Nash’s hosted over the years. The big name that may surprise many people is Martin Luther King Jr.! Frances was quite proud that he would come to stay with the Nash family as Rev J. Edward Nash was one of MLK’s mentors. Frances showed me Rev. Nash’s office in their home, proclaiming that no paper was out of place! She kept it in pristine condition just as he left it in the days when Civil Rights leaders like MLK Jr. came to Buffalo to consult with her husband, Rev. Nash.

Martin Luther King Jr. gave an important speech right here in Buffalo at Kleinhan’s Music Hall not long before his passing. I was a mere child then, so it was terrific to hear about all the Civil Rights leaders & their mentor Rev. J. Edward Nash.


  • https://www.buffalorising.com/2015/02/rev-j-edward-nash-a-legendary-buffalo-pastor/
  • https://www.nashhousemuseum.com/
  • https://www.uncrownedcommunitybuilders.com/person/frances-2
  • https://www.michiganstreetbaptistchurch.org/
  • https://www.wnyheritage.org/content/the_rev_j_edward_nash_house_a_cornerstone_of_history_and_culture/index.html
  • https://library.buffalostate.edu/archives/mfc/nash
  • https://www.wivb.com/news/listen-to-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-s-1967-ub-speech-at-kleinhans-music-hall/