Erie County Chapter of the LINKS, Incorporated

Community Service

Our Centenarians are important ♦ An Evening with Legends

The Centenarians: We Have a Story to Tell

Centenarians top photo
The Living Oral History Program sponsored by the Links Incorporated, Erie County (NY) Chapter.

Funded by:
- The Buffalo branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)
- American Association of University Women (AAUW)
- Buffalo Branch - Grassroots Grant Recipient 2015-2016

The Buffalo Branch of the AAUW awarded funding in 2015 to The Links Incorporated, Erie County (NY) Chapter to support ongoing research related to the longevity of women, especially women of color, residing within the Buffalo and Niagara region. The grant focused on capturing the history of ten (10) living centenarians. The project chronicled their unique lifestyles for the past 100-plus-years as they recollected historical moments and family legacies. These stories underscore the struggles of people in bondage, and the actions they took in an attempt to seek and secure their own rights of suffrage and equality. The stories will be preserved in a soft cover booklet and presented in a media presentation entitled, The Centenarians: We Have a Story to Tell.

On Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Ramada Amherst/Getzville Hotel and Conference Center, the centenarians and their family members were the honored guests of The Erie County Links, Women’s History Month Program. This venue introduced the centenarians who received proclamations from the offices of the Mayor, Senator Kennedy, and Council President Darius G. Pridgen. A Musical tribute from the students of Muhammad’s School of Music highlighted the evening.

On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the president of the Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora, Sharon Amos, PhD, and Urban Legacy Filmworks owner, Doug Ruffin, presented a media production: The Centenarians: We Have a Story To Tell. The presentation consisted of a collection of vignettes highlighting the stories of each of the Centenarians: Irene Breckenridge, Artie Brown, Thelma Onelia Arrington Hickmon, Pearl Lewis, Amanda Pugh Jackson, Mamie LangKirkland, Margaret (Margie) M. Richardson, Mary Lee Jones Reid, Brunette Washington, and Lottie Bell Williams, describing the spirit of courage and perseverance demonstrated as they and their ancestors struggled in an attempt to seek and secure their own rights of suffrage and equality.

The production was viewed by approximately 175 friends and family members during the Afro- American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier‘s 39th Annual Family History Dinner at Emerson School of Hospitality. AAUW members present- Patricia E. Baxter, Cynthia Mehary and Lillis C. McLean. The next phase of the project will be a book signing event to be held the third week in June2016 at the Nash House. For the final phase of the project, an intergenerational project is planned to include Junior and senior high school students.

Cynthia Mehary, Co-President of the Buffalo Branch of the AAUW, joined other program sponsors, ADM Management Group, Incorporated, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Western New York,and M&T Bank in congratulating the honorees.
The project will be cataloged and preserved at such places as The Monroe Fordham Regional History Center and County Frank E. Merriweather Library. “This project provides the Buffalo Branch of the AAUW, under the leadership of chapter co-presidents Carol Golyski and Cynthia Meharyan opportunity to promote mission based programs and equity/diversity for women through relevant research.

An Evening with Legends Click images to enlarge

On Saturday afternoon, March 21, 2015 the Erie County Chapter of the Links Incorporated and The Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora observed Women's History Month at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

"Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives" this year's national theme provided a unique opportunity to capture stories individually and collectively of women's lives. The extraordinary stories of Daisy Estelle Anderson, Lois Dabney, Estelle S. Conway, Viola Hill, Velma Holt, Lillian Hundley, Willie Mae Johnson, Margaret Martin, Neola McGuire, Ulrica Mesiah, Clyde Murphy, Eva Noles, and Garnet Wallace - nonagenarians, who have celebrated nine decades of life ranging from 90 – 98. Theyrecounted stories of their lives and their ancestors' lives, witnessed accounts of the leadership of sixteen presidents of the United States of America including President Obama ( First African American President) that underscores the struggles of their people in bondage, post war struggles and action for freedom to secure their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity.

This historical moment was celebrated with friends and family members as they enjoyed an elegant evening of entertainment. The program began with the occasion given by Eunice D Jackson, immediate Vice President of the Erie County Chapter and co-chair person of the event. She quoted a few lines from Langston Hughes " The Negro Mother" and stated that these women embodied these words. She saluted them as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and even widows. She added that they had struggled and with the help of God have survived. She further indicated that they have contributed to their families, churches, and the community. "Life for them ain't been no crystal stair." She added that they are in essence "phenomenal women".a musical tribute featuring accomplished concert violinist Amirah (Ami) Muhammad. Vocalist Phobie Davis serenaded the honorees with a medley of songs including "Yes, God is Real" one of Mahalia Jackson's spirituals."Legends of the Empire" an original poem by Sharon R. Amos, PhD, President of The Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora, captured their lives underscoring not only their struggles but ignited their memories of the past as legends on the move, of dreams renewed, Legends' sharpening of tools.