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WBFO Racial Equity Project



In recent years, the Buffalo region has had a significant revival, but some question whether all neighborhoods are benefiting.

Buffalo Toronto Public Media is exploring that broad issue through the lens of racial equity. We’re examining the ways discrimination can leave some residents out of the resurgence – in areas such as education, public safety, housing and the economy.

By telling personal stories from across Buffalo, we can spark community discussions and help develop solutions. We’ll also highlight local groups that are working to close these gaps.

So look for our reports on radio broadcasts, Facebook Live events and digital platforms.

WBFO Racial Equity Project

‘This is their Emmett Till moment’: Buffalo residents react to racially motivated mass shooting

Mari lives just around the corner from the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue. “Me and my son come into Tops every day to get him a snack or something,” he said. Mari, who didn’t wish to give his last name, estimates he missed Saturday’s mass shooting there by about five minutes. “I was coming down the street, coming to go to the Tops, and I see all these cops coming, so I stopped,” he said. Mari and other neighborhood residents were gathered outside Tops Saturday night, more than six hours after an 18-year-old white male shot 13 mostly Black victims, killing 10, in what authorities have called a hate crime.

WBFO Racial Equity Project

Buffalo residents say Biden ‘understands our plight,’ while others want more

Andrea Waker grew up in the late 1960s on Riley Street, a block away from what’s now the Tops Market grocery store on Jefferson Avenue. “I walked up and down the street at the age of five by myself. My mother would send me around the corner to get the newspaper,” she recalled. So seeing President Joe Biden in that same area on Tuesday was a bit surreal.

WBFO Racial Equity Project

Creating Racial Equity in WNY

As part of a broad survey of over 130 BIPOC community leaders in Buffalo, we asked what they felt was the number one racial problem in Buffalo, and who has the responsibility to change it. This is a special 2-part report.

WBFO Racial Equity Project

Taking a look back at last year's summer of unrest

One year ago this week a nation watched in anger as Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, killing him in the process. For Buffalo resident and elementary school teacher David Hall, the viral video of the Floyd murder was a precursor to his own run-in with law enforcement that very day.

WBFO Racial Equity Project

The Problems with Parole: Post-release services

Cindi McEachon has traveled to jails and prisons across New York State to talk with inmates about their experience behind bars.

WBFO RAcial Equity Project

Police use of force against women up 350%

Combine race and gender and you will find that women -- particularly Black women -- are being stopped by police much more often than two decades ago.

Latest Stories from the WBFO Racial Equity Project

WNY Conversations About Race | A five part radio and online series.

WNY Conversations About Race

The first step in understanding each other is talking to each other.


The week of July 27, 2020 WBFO NPR launched a five-part series on race relations — bringing people together to talk about equity, white privilege, systemic racism and diversity.


Inspired by NPR’s StoryCorps, the discussions featured a person of color in dialogue with someone who is not. The conversations- facilitated by WBFO reporter Thomas O’Neil White – included people with different backgrounds but similar occupations or fields of interests. After an overview, two people each from the Business, Education, Religious and Social Justice Activism communities were included in subsequent segments. The on-air segments are supplemented by longer additional material provided online.

WNY Conversations ABout Race

Race in WNY Overview

Dr. Ronald Stuart, PhD, Chair, Sociology Department , SUNY Buffalo State with Kevin Heffernan, Managing Director, Rise Collaborative, No Boundaries magazine.

WNY Conversations About Race

WNY Conversations About Race | WBFO Racial Equity Project

Dr. Ronald Stuart and Kevin Heffernan discuss Race in WNY


Hear the entire conversation with WBFO's Thomas O'Neil-White, SUNY Buffalo State's Ron Stewart and Kevin Heffernan from the RISE Collaborative.


WNY Conversations ABout Race


Orlando Dixon, The Partnership for Public Good, Buffalo and Linnea Bret, Standing Up for Racial Justice.

WNY Conversations About Race | Lennea Bret and Orlando Dixon

WNY Conversations About Race | WBFO Racial Equity Project

Linnea Bret and Orlando Dixon discuss Activism


Hear the entire conversation with WBFO's Thomas O'Neil-White, Standing Up for Racial Justice's Linnea Brett and Orlando Dixon from the Partnership for Public Good.


WNY Conversations ABout Race


Daniel Robertson, Program Manager, Boys and Men of Color, Say Yes To Education Buffalo and Jeremy Besch, Head of School, The Park School

WNY Conversations About Race: Education

WNY Conversations About Race | WBFO Racial Equity Project

Daniel Robertson and Jeremy Besch discuss education.


Hear the entire conversation about race that Daniel Robertson and Jeremy Besch had with WBFO's Thomas O'Neil-White.


WNY Conversations About Race


Rev. Kinzer M. Pointer Jr., Pastor of Agape Fellowship Baptist Church, Buffalo and Rev. Matt Lincoln, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Buffalo

WNY Conversations About Race | WBFO Racial Equity Project

Rev. Kinzer Pointer and Rev. Matt Lincoln discuss religion.


Hear Rev. Kinzer Pointer and Rev. Matt Lincoln in an extended conversation about race with WBFO's Thomas O'Neil -White


WNY Conversations About Race | WBFO Racial Equity Project


Stephen Tucker, Pres. & CEO, Northland Workforce Training Center and Paul Vukelic, Pres. & CEO. Try-It Distributing

WNY Conversations About Race | WBFO Racial Equity Project

Stephen Tucker and Paul Vukelic discuss business.


Community Conversations | Facebook Live Discussions

On the Front Lines | Facebook Live Series 

On the front lines: Getting the COVID vaccine out to the Black Community

Black Americans have been hard hit by COVID-19, but polls say many are also hesitant to get a COVID vaccine shot. What problems are the front-line health care workers around Buffalo experiencing? What kind of education and distribution efforts are underway—and why are they necessary?
Join WBFO Reporter Thomas O’Neil-White for an online discussion with Dr. Kenyani Davis MD, MPH, Medical Director at the Community Health Center of Buffalo, and Dr. Raul Vazquez MD of Urban Family Practice/GBAUHN. Recorded Thursday, April 29, 2021.

The event is part of the WBFO Racial Equity project, supported by The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

You Don't Have to be Tough | Facebook Live Series 

You Don’t Have to be Tough: Black Men and Mental Health

Mental health among Black men has been a topic of discussion for decades, with a variety of studies pointing out how hard it is for any male – let alone one of color - to seek help. Add in an extra layer of psychological stress, economic challenges, and racial discrimination and the need becomes critical.

Join WBFO Reporter Thomas O’Neil-White for an online discussion with Christopher St. Vil from the University at Buffalo School of Social work. Prof. St.Vil studies masculinities and health, violence and trauma, and has worked with Black youths in Buffalo on issues of toxic masculinity. Recorded April 22, 2021.

The event is part of the WBFO Racial Equity project, supported by The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

How COVID 19 has hurt progress on Racial Equity | Facebook Live Series 

Race and Covid 19 | How the pandemic has increased health disparities inWNY

Reporter Thomas O'Neil White with guest LaVonne Ansari, Ph.D. , CEO/Executive Director of the Community Health Center of Buffalo. October 29, 2020.

Watch Now

Race and Covid 19 | How the pandemic has changed education for persons of color

Reporter Thomas O'Neil White with guest Sam Radford, President of the District Parent Coordinating Council of Buffalo. November 5, 2020

In 2018, U.S. Census data revealed that internet penetration rates are as low as 36% in some low-income parts of Buffalo, such as the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood and the lower West Side. Before the pandemic, 75 percent of whites graduated in Buffalo last year, compared 60 percent of blacks and 50 percent of Hispanics.

Watch Now

Race and Covid 19 | How the pandemic has altered the economic landscape for already disadvantaged people

Reporter Thomas O'Neil White with guest Thomas Beauford, President of Buffalo Urban League. November 12, 2020.

Newly hired Buffalo Urban League President Thomas Beauford says “Racial injustice and civil unrest have called on us to examine our very humanity and systemic inequities that have, over time, been woven into the very fabric of our society, its institutions and their underlying systems.” What has he seen that can be specifically tied to the pandemic? Unemployment rose since March, but has it risen more for people of color?

Watch Now


Young Men of Color | Facebook Live Series| Watch Online

Young Men of Color

Buffalo Toronto Public Media partnered with Say Yes Buffalo and Breaking Barriers for a series of Facebook Live events recently on the topic of changing the narrative for young men of color. Young men from the Breaking Barriers program lead the Facebook Live discussions, taking the opportunity to exercise their youth voices.

This series is part of WBFO’s Racial Equity project which is funded by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

Young Men of Color: Changing the Narrative | Watch

Young Men of Color: Changing the Narrative
The first in the series of Facebook Live events asked what it means to be a young man of color in Buffalo. Dwayne Sawyer is 18 years old and working on his GED. He’s a part of Breaking Barriers, a program through Say Yes Buffalo’s Boys and Men of Color Initiative. Dwayne lead the conversation examining the narrative around young men of color in Buffalo and nationwide with Boys and Men of Color Program Manager, Daniel Robertson, and Director, Tommy McClam on September 4, 2019.

Young Men of Color: Art as Inspiration | Watch

Young Men of Color: Art as Inspiration
In the second in a series of Facebook Live conversations examining the narrative for young men of color we heard from Edreys Wajed. 

Edreys is an artist and musician who helped paint Buffalo's Freedom Wall Mural. He explored the narrative around young men of color with Daniel Robertson of the Boys and Men of Color Initiative and Dwayne Sawyer, an 18-year-old who is working on his GED on September 11, 2019.

Young Men of Color: The Blackness Project | Watch

Young Men of Color: The Blackness Project
For our third conversation in the series on changing the narrative for young men of color, we spoke with Korey Green, the director of “The Blackness Project,” a film about culture and race from the perspective of African Americans and other minorities. It was inspired by another documentary called “The Whiteness Project” by white Americans in Buffalo on race and culture and the perceived loss of white privilege. Daniel Robertson, program manager for the Boys and Men of Color initiative, hosts the conversation which also includes Malik Patterson, a 20-year old Buffalo State student and member of the Breaking Barriers Youth Leadership Council.

Young Men of Color: Looking Forward | Watch

Young Men of Color: Looking Forward
In the last in our Facebook Live series examining the narrative for young men of color, we turn our attention to the next generation and ask how they will shape the narrative going forward. Joining host Daniel Robertson are Dallas Taylor and Malik Patterson.


The Working Poor

The working poor struggle to afford the basic necessities of housing and food, and they make up almost a third of the population of Erie County. WBFO recently focused on the working poor in a series of reports and a Facebook Live event.

This series is part of WBFO’s Racial Equity project which is funded by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.


"Housing in Black & White," broadcast on Facebook Live, brought together experts to discuss red-lining in Buffalo, affordability and other important issues.

They called for making the city's housing more livable, reforming housing court and addressing the serious health problems that result from lead paint, dust and cockroaches.

Read More

More on Racial Equity from Public Media


Former Police Officer Recounts Firing After She Stopped Fellow Cop's Chokehold

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Cariol Horne, a former Buffalo police officer who was fired after she intervened to stop a white police officer who had placed a chokehold on a Black suspect.


Beyond Protests: Channel Anger Into Action To Fight Racism

We talked to several African American and Hispanic psychologists and leaders for strategies to fight racism.


A Doctor And Black: Overcoming Racial Barriers In Medicine

Dr. Danielle Hairston grew up in a family that included many role models of what she refers to as Black excellence. Yet she is questioned about her rightful place in medicine.


How Race Shaped America's Roadways And Cities

When the urban planner Robert Moses began building projects in New York, he bulldozed Black and Latino homes and built highways through the middle of minority neighborhoods.

The Takeaway

African American Babies are Three Times More Likely to Die

While black babies are two times as more likely than white babies to die before their first birthday, in LA County, the rate is tripled. We've known about this crisis for decades.

The TAkeaway

Public Health Outcomes at the Intersection of Race, Place

According to this year's Key Findings Report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's County Health Rankings, race and place are driving factors for health outcomes.

The TAkeaway

Black Lives at the Multiplex

This week's culture roundup looks at "Sorry to Bother You," "Blindspotting," and "BlacKkKlansman," three new films explicitly focused on issues of racism and black life.

Fresh Air

Oakland Gets A Starring Role Films About Race and Inequality

Blindspotting and Sorry to Bother You are two inventive, genre-busting independent features, each one about a young black man on a strange and harrowing quest for survival.

All Things COnsidered

How Video Games Can Help Us Explore Ideas About Race

A gaming conventions targets people of color with a theme of how they can create games that incorporate — and teach others — ideas of politics and race.


Amid A Hispanic Boom, Conflicting Feelings On Immigration

We went to rural southwestern Virginia, which has one of the fastest-growing Hispanic populations in the state. There, we found a community that holds many of the complicated view

All Things Considered

Asian-Americans Facing Staggering Levels Of Income Inequali

Asian-Americans have displaced African-Americans as the most economically divided group in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center. Food pantries are seeing growing needs a

Morning Edition

White People Calling The Police On Black People Is Not New

White people have called the police on African-Americans during everyday activities. We look into the historical reasons authorities are called when white people felt uncomfortabl

PBS NEwshour

These 16 songs broke ground for ‘This is America’

A black man is shot in the head. The refrain: “This is America.” A gospel choir goes silent in a hail of bullets from an even bigger gun. “This is America,” Donald Glover, stage n

NPRWhy Are Cities Still So Segregated? | Let's Talk | NPR

In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act that made it illegal to discriminate in housing. Gene Demby of NPR’s Code Switch explains why neighborhoods are still so segregated today.

PBS NewsHourHow the home loan process drives gentrification

Blacks and Latinos say they have trouble getting home loans in Philadelphia. Here's why.

PBS NewsHourHow disadvantaged neighborhoods amplify racial inequality

How disadvantaged neighborhoods amplify racial inequality

PBS NewsHourStrides made, but black-white equality chasm remains

Marc Morial about why “equality index” for blacks stands at just 72% of that of whites.

PBS NewsHourWhat we’ve learned about racial inequity in Ferguson

What we’ve learned about racial inequity in Ferguson.

PBS NewsHourThriving, affordable Twin Cities have racial inequality gap

Even in the Twin Cities, there’s a sharp racial inequality gap.

Code Switch from NPR-

explores overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.

Remembering John Lewis

Remembering John Lewis, American Politician and Civil Rights Leader

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July 20, 2020

By Madisson Haynes

Rep. John Lewis, a Civil Rights hero, was a supporter of civic engagement, including the ongoing global Black Lives Matter protests. He had been beaten and arrested several times during the Civil Rights Movement. Lewis, who died from pancreatic cancer July 17, was known for his powerful speeches and advocated for getting into "good trouble" all his life.

Here are some videos exploring his extraordinary life from different angles.

John Lewis - Get in the Way

The son of sharecroppers, John Lewis grew up in rural isolation, seemingly destined to a bleak, segregation-imposed future. But his fate took a different turn, and Lewis rose from Alabama’s Black Belt to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill, his humble origins forever linking him to those whose voices customarily go unheard. You can stream John Lewis: Get in the Way, now.

Freedom Riders: John Lewis

Courtesy of American Experience, this shows us the story behind a courageous band of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South.

Encore: John Lewis Marches On

Two icons of the 60's civil rights era — Bill Moyers and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) — met to share experiences and revelations about the momentous March on Washington which they both attended 50 years ago. Encore: John Lewis Marches On, courtesy of Moyers & Company, explains how at 23, Lewis had just been named to lead the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and was the youngest and most defiant of the featured speakers.

Finding Your Roots: John Lewis

Courtesy of Finding Your Roots, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. examines the ancestry pasts of two remarkable politicians, Congressman John Lewis and Newark Mayor, Cory Booker.

John Lewis’s Speech

Remembering the life and legacy of John Lewis

Remembering the Life and Legacy of John Lewis, courtesy of PBS NewsHour, explains how Rep. John Lewis was a Civil Rights hero. Lewis was a supporter of civic engagement, including the Black Lives Matter protests. Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

John Lewis 'was prepared to die' for freedom long ago

As the nation mourns the loss of American hero and Civil Rights icon John Lewis, his friends and colleagues remember a towering figure who was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and equality. In this clip courtesy of PBS NewsHour, Special Correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and activist and historian Mary Frances Berry join Hari Sreenivasan to reflect on the enduring legacy of John Lewis.

Arthur Takes a Stand

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John Lewis appeared on PBS Kids in Arthur Takes a Stand. Here, Lewis meets with Arthur and his classmates. “There’s nothing more important than following your conscience,” an animated version of Lewis said. “If you can do that, you’re always going to sleep well.”

In the episode, John Lewis encourages Arthur to stand up to an injustice against lunch lady Mrs. MacGrady, who is friend of Lewis'. Additionally, the episode highlights Lewis’ record as a civil rights pioneer.

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Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable

Breaking Barriers - Boys & Young Men of Color

Cities United

Race Forward - The Center for Racial Justice Innovation

Policy Link

W.K. Kellogg Foundation - Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT)


Intersection of Structural Racism and Structural Violence: Understanding Implications for Structural Change in Cities, Webinar #1
Focus: Structural Racism

Intersection of Structural Racism and Structural Violence: Understanding Implications for Structural Change in Cities, Webinar #2
Focus: Structural Violence

Intersection of Structural Racism and Structural Violence: Understanding Implications for Structural Change in Cities, Webinar #3
Focus: Structural Change


PBS three-part documentary entitled The Power of an Illusion

Redlining Overview Clip from PBS documentary The Power of an Illusion

PBS documentary about the conversation taking place between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police entitled The Talk- Race In America

PBS Digital's The Origin of Everything explores The Origin of Race in the USA

Weekly NPR podcast that covers race, ethnicity and culture entitled Code Switch.

Weekly podcast about changing the narrative for boys and young men of color in Buffalo, New York entitled Breaking Barriers.


The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America
Author: Richard Rothstein

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Author: Michelle Alexander

Between the World and Me
Author: Ta-Nehishi Coates

The Other Wes Moore
Author: Wes Moore

Author: Matthew Desmond

Tales of Two Americas
Author: John Freeman


Profile of the Native American Population in the Four-County Region of Western New York
Author: Terry L. Cross, MSW, PhD

Racial Equity Tools

Racial Equity Impact Analysis Training - Click to learn more


Greater Buffalo Racial Equity RoundtableBuffalo's Great Opportunity

The Racial Equity Roundtable includes more than 30 community leaders from public, private, nonprofits, and faith institutions convened to advance racial equity and promote the change required to accelerate a shared regional prosperity.

The WBFO Racial Equity Project focuses on issues of diversity and inclusion. Through radio reports, digital content, Facebook Live events and other community conversations, we aim to explore a variety of issues. We will examine challenges in education, employment, public safety, housing and other arenas that are impacted by racial inequity. The goal: to engage our community, raise awareness and help to guide discussions toward solutions.

The Racial Equity Project is funded by The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.