Getthebuzz716 launched a Celebrate Black History project in Buffalo NY that highlights those setting out their journey to leaving their own footprints on history. I caught up with one of the participates of the project Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant and here's what she had to say.
How did you get started in your career and/or Organization?
I was a legislative assistant to Councilmember-At-Large, Beverly A. Gray in 1996. A few years later, I decided to run for a vacant position on the Buffalo common Council representing the University district.
What were some of the cultural influences that made an impact on you?
Juneteenth, Kwanzaa, Marcus Garvey Day, Pine Grill Reunion, Gospel Fest. These are all cultural events that occur annually in Buffalo.
How important is History to you and how has that shaped who you are today?
History is very important, especially Black History because, with the exception of a few individuals such as Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, African American has been excluded from the history books. I strive for excellence because of what our ancestors achieved even though the 'deck' was stacked so hugely against them succeeding at all.
If you could go back in time as one person in Black History who would it be and why?
It would be Harriet Tubman. What she did for African Americans and Union soldiers in the American Civil War are extraordinary deeds that cannot ever be matched. I want to be remembered as an individual who made a difference. I could never match or even come close to Ms. Tubman's record but nothing should prevent me from doing all I can to help my people.
As we look at the rich cultural history of Buffalo visually from the project how does it make you feel and what do you feel people should take from it?
It makes me feel proud that someone thought enough of me and what I am trying to accomplish to include me in the project. I believe people should thirst for more information regarding our history, in this country and even way before we were brought here in chains. We have a rich and vibrant history that is embedded in the fabric of the nation. We have a responsibility to let our children and grandchildren know about and respect it.
Any project coming and where can people find your work, business and/or organization?
I have two more books coming out real soon. One is another book of poetry titled, 'Pockets Full of Empty Air' and an autobiography of my life and education in the 'Jim Crow' South. My book, 'Falling through the Crack' can be found on Amazon.com, Erie County Libraries and Barnes & Noble. My organization, We Are Women Warriors, meets every 1st and 3rd Wednesday @ the Frank E. Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave., Buffalo, NY 14208.
What footprint on History would you like to leave or open the doors too?
I would like to be elected the first Democratic female to represent Buffalo in the New York State Senate. The fact that I would be the first African American female, as well, can only be a positive; for women in general and for minority women, in particular. I have served my city in such positions as a public school teacher, business owner, councilmember, school board member, county legislator. I believe these if we have dreams and/or ambitions and then we do nothing but talk and allow those dreams to wither on the vines, then double shame on us.
For info on Celebrate Black History project go to https://www.facebook.com/celebrateblackhistorybuffalo
For more info on Betty Jean Grant http://www2.erie.gov/grant/