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Prominent Visitors to Buffalo

Posted on: | by Scott Hollander |

Coming off of President Obama’s visit to the University at Buffalo’s campus on August 22, 2013, the University at Buffalo Libraries is pleased to announce the “Prominent Visitors to Buffalo” digital collection. This collection chronicles many of the politicians and activists that visited Buffalo in the past 50 years. Documentation from the University Archives includes photographs, coverage of events from the UB Spectrum student newspaper, and related ephemera. Speakers include Robert F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Muhammad Ali, and Ralph Nader. Much of the coverage is from events from the 1960s. Additional visitors and content will be added regularly to the collection.

Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy drew a large and enthusiastic crowd during his visit to the University at Buffalo 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. Kennedy also visited the area on January 20, 1967 to take part of the Model City Conference.



President Lyndon B. Johnson

President Johnson visited Buffalo, NY 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. President Johnson visit also included a quick boat ride on the Buffalo River with Governor Rockefeller to get a first hand look of the polluted waterways.



Richard M. Nixon

Over 20,000 people attended a Richard Nixon campaign rally at the Buffalo 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.



Muhammad Ali

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

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.”



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