Community members and lawmakers attend funeral for late civil rights leader

Local News

A staple in the Buffalo community, Frank Mesiah, was laid to rest Saturday. The former president of the Buffalo NAACP chapter was 89 years old. Dozens of people including community leaders and state and local lawmakers attended the funeral at St. John Baptist Church in Buffalo.

“It is quite a loss, it is quite a loss,” said U.S. District Court Judge Hugh Scott.

A loss that’s felt well beyond the Buffalo community.

“Buffalo is a better place because of Frank Mesiah. Erie County is a better place because of Frank Mesiah and those of us who knew him are better people because we knew Frank Mesiah,” said Buffalo City Court Judge James McLeod.

“He was a moral compass for our community,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy.

Frank Mesiah was a leader, loving friend and mentor to many.

“Became a mentor, a father like figure to me and a friend,” said Judge McLeod.

“He’s also a person who’ve I’ve always looked up to, to be a leader, to have the courage to speak up,” said Judge Scott.

Inside the St. John Baptist Church in Buffalo, it’s not a day of sadness. Instead, it’s a celebration of his life.

“Every race, religion, every walk of life, class. When you see that you know someone’s had an impact on the whole community not just part of it,” said Judge Scott.

“He was somebody who stood up for what was right all the time, whether it was popular or not,” said Senator Kennedy.

From family, friends, community members to local and state lawmakers who had the pleasure of knowing him, including Mayor Byron Brown and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

“Frank was instrumental in his desegregation of Buffalo Public Schools and the success integration of the Buffalo Police Department. Western New York is grateful for Frank’s lifetime of tireless work to advance the cause of justice and equality,” said Rep. Brian Higgins.

At 89 years old, the community celebrates his lifetime of achievements. He was Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, board member of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation, member of the ECMC Board of directors, the list goes on.

“He was an individual who was of the highest character, of the highest level of respect for others. Always putting others first,” said Senator Kennedy.

“We’re very proud, very proud,” said Judge Scott.

Despite this loss, it’s the legacy Mesiah leaves behind that the community is determined to keep alive.

“Although Frank is gone, we now have a responsibility to pick up the mantle and to speak out on those issues that he would’ve wanted us to speak out for,” said Judge McLeod.

Current NAACP president Rev. Mark Blue says he hopes to pay tribute to Mesiah by dedicating part of the new NAACP office to him.

Mayor Byron Brown says he believes there will also be memorials created in the city.

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