BUFFALO, N.Y. — When it comes to lifting up Buffalo's African American community — to celebrate it and strengthen it — Herb Bellamy, Jr., doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk.
"We've come a long way but yet we have such a long way to go," Bellamy said.
Bellamy gave a tour of the Buffalo Black Achievers Museum he created to WGRZ's Melissa Holmes. While doing so, he was surrounded by the images of African-American leaders in Buffalo's past and present.
"Buffalo has a large community of African Americans that are doing tremendous things in Buffalo," Bellamy said.
He himself, is one of them.
Bellamy celebrates local African Americans annually through his Black Achievers Awards dinner, a tradition started 50 years ago by his father, Herb Bellamy Sr. The senior Bellamy was an elected official, business owner and community activist.
"I saw him as a loving father for one, and a mover and shaker," said the younger Bellamy.
So when the Jefferson Avenue Community Center once built by his father was vacant and in disrepair, Bellamy Jr., a developer and CEO of Bellamy Enterprises, turned it into Bellamy Commons; 30 affordable apartments with a playground. He also built 60 senior housing units on Jefferson Avenue called 1490 Estates. Then in 2020, Bellamy opened the Black Achievers Museum. But he said his work is far from complete.
"My goal is to bring some mainstream companies to Jefferson Avenue so we can have the same resources as many other communities have," he said.
Mayor Byron Brown calls Bellamy a 'thought leader' in Buffalo's Black community.
"I've worked with him on the developments we've seen on Jefferson Avenue and I'm confident in the next couple of years we're going to see a transformed Jefferson Avenue. Herb Bellamy, Jr., has been a large part of that," said Mayor Brown. "Not only is he someone that encourages others in their passion to make the community better, he is someone who is a doer himself, always rolling up his sleeves, working to try to make the community better."
Black Achievers and Bellamy Enterprises are what Bellamy is known for, but Bellamy's closest friends, like Administrative Judge for the Eighth Judicial District Kevin Carter, say they most admire him for his quiet gestures helping people without expecting anything in return.
"I've asked him, 'Why do you get up so early in the morning to try to find meals for seniors? Why are you so fixated on trying to ensure everyone gets vaccinated?' He tells me, 'it's just good for people,'" Carter said.
Bellamy's latest project is launching the Black Achievers' Youth Academy, providing educational and work experiences to inspire the next generation of leaders.
"What's better than to show our children how to be leaders in our community and to be leaders of themselves," Bellamy said.
Honoring the past, celebrating the present, strengthening the future — Herb Bellamy, Jr., does it all with selflessness.
"For me to be able to help change the landscape of my community and show a different light, it's a blessing to be able to be a position like that," he said.
Other important job titles he holds include husband, father of three, volunteer, chairman of the Buffalo Sewer Authority, and board member of multiple organizations and charities.
According to Bellamy's biography, Bellamy has served as a consultant with the following organizations:
- People Inc.
- Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, Inc.
- True Bethel Baptist Church (Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY)
- Olive Baptist Church CDC
- Hamlin Park Taxpayers Association
- Jefferson Avenue Business Committee
- Thurman Thomas Family Foundation
- Northwest Savings Bank
- Sinatra & Company
- CSS Construction
Bellamy serves as an active Board Member with the following organizations:
- The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum
- The Buffalo Sewer Authority
- Buffalo Black Achievers
- Community Services for Every1
- Law Enforcement Foundation of WNY, Inc.
- Niagara Business Associates
- Thurman Thomas Family Foundation
To nominate a Western New Yorker to be featured in WGRZ's "Selfless Among Us" series, email Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com .
To see others featured in the "Selfless Among Us" series, click the stories below.