African American Veterans Monument Endowment

Honoring the voices of those who have served

Did you know that the first casualty of the Revolutionary War was a Black man? Throughout history, Black soldiers have played a vital role in every U.S. war. 

To honor those veterans, the African American Veterans Monument was unveiled in 2022, a culmination of many years of hard work.

“In each war, African Americans had to fight for freedom and to defend this nation, and then returned home and fought against segregation and discrimination, yet they still answered the call,” said Robin Hodges, Vice Chair of African American Veterans Monument (AAVM) Inc. “With this monument, we will educate and inspire people to look deeper into the major role that African American veterans played.”

The monument, located at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, features a series of 12 black pillars that represent each American war, positioned according to the latitude and longitude coordinates of when and where each war took place. The space between the pillars signifies peacetime, and names of veterans grace the bricks – engraved like military dog tags – around the pillars. “The monument is for everyone that has served past, present, future, wartime and peacetime,” noted Mark Boyd, Treasurer of AAVM.

To maintain the monument for years to come, including adding bricks, AAVM established an endowment at the Community Foundation in 2021, which will permanently support it.

“It felt like a natural fit, knowing that the Community Foundation is responsible for many organizations’ endowments and investments,” explained Mark. “There was a level of comfort, professionalism and just accessibility.”

Since establishing the endowment, AAVM has benefited from the value-added educational opportunities, like a monthly planned giving webinar offered to Community Foundation clients. “I have enjoyed learning about the different avenues of fundraising to help maintain and advance the monument’s endowment for ongoing expenses,” Robin said.

Through the endowment, AAVM will be able to share the important contributions of Black soldiers with Western New York for many years to come.

This story is featured in our 2022 Annual Report.