By Dr. Kush K. Bhardwaj
Hilbert College, located in Hamburg, invited Open Buffalo Executive Director Franchelle Parker to speak to the college community on a variety of topics. In her address, she covered the services Open Buffalo provides and how Open Buffalo supports the community affected by the massacre of May 14th. Parker provided insight from her rich cultural ancestry and traced her path to Open Buffalo and social justice work. After laying facts regarding the hyper-segregation in the 14208 ZIP Code and the effects of poverty and violence, Parker inspired the crowd to take action and get involved.
Declaring that “We are stronger than the systemic challenges” before us, she pivoted to discuss self-care and how we must protect, restore, and heal those in our community. Imploring the audience to do the hard, necessary work to combat racial inequality, Parker asserted how race does matter. Quoting the late Dr. Martin Luther King, she pronounced “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” and urged the Hilbert audience to not be relegated to being spectators.
Parker laid out a battle plan for those interested in getting involved. She contended that you “can start where you are” and maintained that talking about racism is a crucial step in the journey to social justice. She urged the crowd, as individuals and collectively, to “develop a plan” and, if they “want to build a real movement,” the need to educate yourselves” and “fight misinformation” was critical.
Inviting the listeners to “bring their authentic selves” to the struggle, Parker explained how three things are needed in the struggle for social justice: time, talent, and treasure. Declaring that the love for one another must be a sacrificial love, Parker left the crowd with an understanding of Buffalo’s challenges and needs. Moreover, she inspired Hilbert in the ways they can assist and serve.