Buffalo in the ’60s: Buffalo’s leaders urge peace following King’s assassination

By Steve Cichon

As Buffalo gathered to mourn the death of Martin Luther King Jr., two men who remained community leaders for parts of five decades conferred as they marched in memory.

Buffalo News archives

George K. Arthur (far right) and Arthur O. Eve (second from right) were among those in Western New York working to ensure that the April 1968 assassination of the civil rights leader wouldn’t reopen the wounds of Queen City race relations, which had barely begun to heal.

King visited Buffalo five months before he was slain in part to help promote healing following racially charged protests and rioting in Buffalo during the summer of 1967. He told an audience at UB that “we are moving toward the day when we will judge a man by his character and ability instead of by the color of his skin.”

Buffalonians of all races gathered on the plaza in front of the downtown library at Lafayette Square to remember Dr. King. Among the speakers was freshman Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve, who implored, “If you know of anyone planning violence, stop them.

“We can overcome by using our brains, talents, and abilities, and by uniting together, black and white, to achieve equal justice for all.”

“He knew his method was the right method,” Eve said of King’s strict adherence to nonviolence, “but if we do not continue his fight and struggle, his death will have been in vain.”

Barely a year on the job in Albany when this photo was taken, Eve served another 34 years in the Assembly. He was deputy speaker from 1977 to 2002.

George K. Arthur was on Erie County’s board of supervisors, was Ellicott District councilman, and was president of the Common Council from 1984 to 1996. He later served as secretary of Buffalo’s financial control board.