Niagara Gazette

Columns

May 1, 2013

BRADBERRY: Words, deeds matter: Saying vs. doing

Niagara Gazette — So there we were again last week, standing against racism, at least this time, indoors, out of the rain, but what good does it do to say one thing, and do another, or worse, do nothing?

The public display reminded me of one project that actually got done, moving in a relatively short time from words to deeds, marking this area as a historically important place where monumental words and deeds seemed, once upon a time, to matter.

Celebrating the historical importance of the Niagara River as a gateway to freedom on the Underground Railroad during the mid-19th century, the Freedom Crossing Monument, located on the bank of the Niagara River in Lewiston, New York, dedicated on the cold, rainy night, October 14, 2009, was the first project to receive the endorsement of the Niagara River Greenway Commission; so far, despite promises to the contrary, nearly half a decade later, it remains the first and the last monument of its kind to move from words to action.

In spite of the fact that, way back on June 11, 2007, the Niagara Falls City Council passed a resolution supporting the construction of a bronze statue of Harriet Tubman near the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge abutment near Ontario and Whirlpool Streets in Niagara Falls where historians have documented that she indeed led fugitives across the bridge into Canada, so far, other than the verbal commitment to do so, neither concrete nor bronze have materialized there.

It has been well documented that the Niagara River, stretching from the banks of Lake Erie in Buffalo, New York to the mouth of Lake Ontario in Youngstown, New York served as a gateway to freedom on the Underground Railroad during the mid-19th century, yet little more than words have materialized to build what was once proposed as our version of the famed, but also unfinished Emerald Necklace, what was to be an 1,100 acre stretch of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts.

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