Buffalo’s connection to Brown v. Board of Education on 70th anniversary

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Friday is the 70th anniversary of one of the most consequential Supreme Court decisions in history. Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation in public schools as unconstitutional and let to the integration of those schools.

If you want a way to observe the anniversary, a church in Buffalo is named after two men who played key roles in the eventual decision.

In the shadow of Larkinville sits the Delaine Waring African Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Earl Perrin says a step inside his church is a step back in history, when most of society was segregated between races — including schools.

“We couldn’t even sit in the same school with a white child,” said Perrin.

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Rev. Joseph Delaine, a Black pastor in Clarendon County, South Carolina decided to get involved with a lawsuit challenging the status quo: Briggs v. Elliott.

“He thought this school case needed to be heard,” said Perrin.

They lost the case, but not without a scathing descent by appeals court Judge Julius Waties Waring, who wrote segregation was “an evil that must be eradicated.”

“They used that as the catalyst for Brown versus Topeka Board of Education,” said Perrin.

Once that decision came down Delaine and Waring paid a price for their roles. There were murder attempts. When Delaine’s church was burned down, he and his family left South Carolina.

“He goes to New York State and starts a church here in Buffalo, New York,” said Perrin.

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Others from the South followed, including Judge Waring.

“He became very good friends with Rev. Joseph Delaine because he applauded the fact that he stood up for the right thing,” said Perrin.

A friendship that is immortalized by the name of the Delaine Waring AME Church in Buffalo, a city that was once a final stop on the Underground Railroad and which has welcomed immigrants since the days of the Erie Canal.

“This was a place where people have been fighting for years for the right things,” said Perrin.

A fight Rev. Perrin says continues, 70 years after the Supreme Court decided people like Joseph Delaine and Julius Waring had it right.

“Now I’m not saying Buffalo’s not racism, please don’t get me wrong,” said Perrin. “But there are a lot of good people, and we can get misrepresented by the racist ones. So, I will not stand up in here and tell you we can’t get better. We can always get better. But we’ve come a way, we’re better now.”

The Delaine Waring AME Church is hosting a celebration of the ruling’s anniversary from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Friday. Members of the legal community and civil rights scholars will speak about the church’s connection to Brown v. Board of Education. Also speaking will be Joseph Delaine Jr. – the 91-year-old son of Rev. Joseph Delaine.

The church is at 680 Swan Street. The event is free and open to the public.

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Scott Patterson is a co-anchor on News 4 Wake Up! He joined the News 4 team in 2024. See more of his work here.

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