BUFFALO, N.Y. — From "The East Side" to "East Buffalo" and from "The West Side" to "West Buffalo," conversations about renaming sides of the city are picking up momentum as Buffalo continues to sit at the front and center of national conversations.
On Saturday, while in Buffalo for the Juneteenth parade, Governor Kathy Hochul announced millions of dollars worth of investments to East Buffalo as a sign of commitment.
Hochul released a statement saying, "East Buffalo and communities like it have for decades suffered from significant disinvestment, neglect, and the failure of government policy. We are not afraid to take on these systemic challenges, and together, with the City, the County, community members, and other partners - we're going to do that. Today's announcement is a down payment on the much larger amount of work that lies ahead."
When it comes to renaming, Pastor Timothy Brown of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Niagara Falls says he feels very strongly that there should be an official change because - "words matter."
Brown was born and raised in East Buffalo and says it has to start by empowering and changing the mindset of the people who live there and then educating the rest of the city so collectively the narrative changes.
"When's the last time you heard someone referred to North Buffalo as the North Side? When was the last time you heard somebody refer to South Buffalo as the South Side?" Pastor Brown asked.
Already, national outlets, community leaders, and politicians including Mayor Byron Brown and Governor Kathy Hochul have made the name change.
Pastor Brown tells 2 On Your Side's Liz Lewin, "Whenever it comes to marginalized, disenfranchised ethnicities, we always put a side tag or some hashtag on them. If we make a formal name change, and if we allow people to really buy into, East Buffalo as being just as important, as Canalside, just as important as South Buffalo, just as important as North Buffalo, then maybe we'll get those types of industries to come back to East Buffalo."
For instance, more food stores, big box stores, and supercenters that are a dime a dozen in other parts of the city.
Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, Buffalo's Deputy Mayor, says "It's going to take some effort, but if we intentionally change the narrative I think that it's something we can do."