It took a walk along Bird Island Pier over the weekend to discover a powerful and fascinating new memorial at Broderick Park. The park has always been known as an integral final destination point along the Underground Railroad. Standing at the foot of the park, Canada is clearly visible, though not at night when a slave would have crossed. The park would have been an invigorating and terrifying last stop for many slaves who were trying to make it across the fast flowing river.
Over the years, a couple of historic signs and waymarking signals have been erected, in order to denote the significance of the site. When the Bascule Bridge was reopened this past spring, visitors to Broderick Park (located at the end of West Ferry) found that a great number of improvements to the park scape had been made.
One of the most significant installations came in the form of a winding cement trail that told the critical and heartbreaking timeline of slavery in the United States. Starting with the first ship arriving to Jamestown, Virginia in August of 1619, to the Dred Scott Decision, and on to the Civil War and freedom, a series of granite markers tell the horrific story of slavery as it pertains to Buffalo, and to the nation.
My walk along the trail was both enlightening and sobering. It brought back a lot of the old history lessons, and refreshed my recollection of the matter. The historic installation is a powerful reminder of a time that should never be forgotten. Every Buffalonian should take the time to walk this trail, and then afterwards head out along Bird Island Pier (the break wall that passes under the Peace Bridge) to think about the importance of this waterfront destination.
This past summer, a contemplative garden was dedicated to Ms. Lillion Batchelor. Batchelor helped to show the significance of the park through vast research that she conducted. The park is a true reminder of those who were enslaved and sacrificed their lives in the process. I would think that at some point in the near future, an annual celebration would be held at this site. Now that there is a small amphitheater at this location, it would be the perfect place for members of The Colored Musicians Club to host a concert. That way, this inspirational waterfront destination’s legacy would sound off over the waters for all to hear each and every year.