Niagara University participating in community lamentation event at Buffalo History Museum

Mar. 17—Niagara University will take part in a community lamentation event at the Buffalo History Museum on March 24 at which people can hear how some Buffalo residents have been affected by the racially motivated mass shooting that left 10 people dead this past May.

Lamentation "focuses on the notion that before we can get to social justice, we have to hear the collective trauma of people who experienced racial violence in this country," said Rolanda Ward, the director of the Rose Bene Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equity & Mission at NU.

The NU-Buffalo collaboration is one of five selected across the country to undertake a project that pulls together faculty from different theological schools. Funding is from the American Theological School and the Luce Foundation.

Ward invited faculty from the seminaries at Baylor University (Texas) and Calvin University (Michigan) to participate in the Buffalo lamentation. She has previous history with speakers Stephanie Boddie from Baylor and Danjuma Gibson from Calvin, she said.

Other speakers will include: Mark Talley, the son of shooting victim Geraldine Talley; Zeneta Everhart, mother of shooting survivor Zaire Goodman; Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, resident Timothy Hogues; college students who reside in the Jefferson neighborhood; and civic leaders and clergy members who responded to the shooting.

In all, 23 people have a part in the project, and this past October they traveled to Washington, D.C., to ground themselves in the historical trauma of black and brown people, Ward said. The cohort will be in Western New York from March 23 through March 26, and will visit True Bethel Baptist church, participate in a racial healing circle at Bethany Baptist Church, and visit Word of Life ministries, all in Niagara Falls. Some will provide their own laments about racial violence, some will provide music, and a class for seminarians will take place.

Community lamentation will be ongoing from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 24 and it's open to the public, though registrations are limited as Ward hopes to have about 100 participants. For more information, contact the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center through Niagara University's website or call project director Kaylyn Townsend-Kensinger at 716 — 286-8115.

"Folks across Western New York are encouraged to register and attend," Ward said. "We can only work as a community when we know what kind of pain we are dealing with, so we know how to act and how to seek justice."