University Archives is pleased to announce a new digital collection: Prominent Visitors to Buffalo. This collection chronicles many of the politicians, authors, musicians, and activists that visited Buffalo as well as UB. Documentation from the Archives includes photographs, coverage of events from the UB Spectrum student newspaper, and related ephemera. Speakers include Muhammad Ali, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard M. Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Additional visitors and content are regularly added to the collection. A portion of these images are available for purchase from the UB Libraries Store
In December 1967, Students for a Democratic Society, The Resistance, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee invited Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) to speak at the University at Buffalo. Ali appeared in Buffalo during the time of his resistance to the Vietnam draft. Before he spoke, he requested that antiwar signs be removed from the room, explaining that he was not in Buffalo “to promote any demonstration or support any groups fighting the draft.” Ali answered questions from students on the proposed 1968 Olympic Games boycott, his toughest fights, and President Johnson.
Ralph Nader spoke at Clark Gym on the first Earth Day in 1970. Sponsored by the Student Association, Nader had an audience of over 4,500. The UB Spectrum reported, “Nader addressed himself to the problems of pollution and industrial violence while criticizing the major corporations, various legislatures and government regulatory agencies for carrying it out against the public.”
Robert F. Kennedy drew a large and enthusiastic crowd during his visit to campus in the fall of 1964, speaking from the terrace of Norton Union (now Squire Hall). Kennedy was campaigning for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Kenneth Keating, who also visited campus that fall. Kennedy went on to win the election and was New York’s junior senator at the time of his death in 1968. Additional images are from RFK’s appearance at the Buffalo Model City Conference at City Hall in 1967.
Dr. King’s 1967 speech at Kleinhans Music Hall was entitled “The Future of Integration” and called for a “massive action program” to end an economic depression and suggested a $40-billion federal program over a two year period to wipe out slums and poverty in the United States. The UB Spectrum reported that Dr. King “castigated the national administration that is more concerned with an unjust war in Vietnam than with winning the war on poverty.” Dr. King’s visit was sponsored by the University at Buffalo Student Association and Graduate Student Association. The collection includes audio of the speech, photographs of the event, and coverage from the Spectrum.
President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Buffalo on August 19, 1966. Held outside City Hall on Niagara Square, Johnson’s speech centered on cleaning up pollution in Lake Erie and the Buffalo River. He was accompanied by First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson. Other speakers at the event included Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and Buffalo Mayor Frank A. Sedita.
20,000 people attended a Richard Nixon campaign rally at Memorial Auditorium on October 7, 1968. Also in attendance were First Lady Pat Nixon, Bandleader Lionel Hampton (who sang the National anthem), Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, and New York Senators Jacob J. Javits and Charles E. Goodell. The visit was marked by over 200 protesters, calling themselves “The United Front Against Nixon-Humphrey-Wallace.” The demonstration was a coordinated effort of 5 student groups: Students for a Democratic Society, Peace and Freedom Party, Buffalo Draft Resistance Union, Youth Against War and Fascism, and a peace group from Canisius College.
Thanks to Kris Miller and Stacy Person of the UB Libraries Digital Team for getting this collection up quickly. And a special thanks to Joe Patton, Archives graduate assistant for digitizing the images.
Purchase Select Images at the UB Libraries Store.