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Buffalo Bills supporting four Black History Month initiatives

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This month and beyond, the Buffalo Bills are proud to celebrate Black History in our city. Learn more about the initiatives the Bills are supporting and how to get involved.

Organized by Eman Wajed, Chad Williams, Cain McDermott, Rodney Chatmon and Dan Abbotoy, Buffalo Fashion Runway will hold a Black Carpet event celebrating a diverse group of creatives in the Buffalo area.

Local professional models as well as prominent Black figures in the community will don pieces created by local designers, with performances from local artists adding to an evening full of art that is 100 percent built in Buffalo.

Prior to the show, guests can pose for pictures on the black carpet and check out some of the clothing, visual art and food vendors.

"We wanted to highlight Black fashion, Black culture in Buffalo specifically," Wajed said. "I'm just happy for the opportunities that the designers are going to have after this, the models, the photographers, the musical artists. I'm just happy to see everyone come together to celebrate fashion and celebrate culture and to be able to put on a premiere event for the city."

Models will also wear Williams and McDermott's custom Buffalo 10 jersey, designed to commemorate the victims of the May 14, 2022 shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets.

"I feel as if everyone we've met along this journey, everyone we will meet along this journey have all given us peace, blessings and love," Wajed said. "There's so much love in this city, there's so much support for what we've got going on.

"Come to support the Buffalo community, the Buffalo creative community, the Buffalo fashion community. The experience that you will have at the Black Carpet event, even if you are not interested in fashion and creativity and arts, it will be sort of like a red carpet experience, it will be sort of like a Met Gala experience."

The Black Carpet event will be held Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. at the Northland Workforce Training Center located at 683 Northland Ave. and will run until roughly 9 p.m.

A little under two years ago, 10 Black people were murdered by a white supremacist at a Tops Friendly Markers supermarket in the East Side of Buffalo. Three others were injured, including Zeneta Everhart's son Zaire.

Everhart, who was elected to the Buffalo Common Council in November, has responded to the tragedy by attempting to teach love rather than hate to today's children. Everhart believes that education is the most important factor in preventing racist ideologies from becoming ingrained in the next generation.

"That just shows the failure of the education system and not educating people in this country about the impact that Black people have had on this country across all different types of areas," Everhart said on the 5/14 shooting. "So, we started the book club so that we could educate people, especially children, about diversity and inclusion and acceptance, but also just about the history of Black people in America."

Zeneta & Zaire’s Book Club has gifted tens of thousands of books to community centers, schools and local organizations in the greater Buffalo area, partnering with Villa Maria College, Everhart's alma mater that hosts the book club

In February, Zeneta & Zaire's Book Club will partner with the Buffalo Bills to distribute books to children at Hamlin Park School, inviting local Black authors to read their books featuring stories of Black heroes and the importance of diversity. Registration for the event can be found at this link.

"I really wanted the emphasis to be on some of our local Black authors because they're doing the work and they're putting their pen to paper and making sure that representation is seen," Everhart said.

Zeneta & Zaire's Book Club can be found on Instagram and Facebook or reached at Donations are always appreciated and books for children can be purchased on the Book Club's Amazon Wish List.

"Our children teach us so much about who we should be in this world," Everhart said. "I think that if we're sending kids home with books that they're excited about, that they just want to read the story, that's going to pierce the hatred in the parents. It's about showing kids that Black kids are just like them."

The Buffalo Bills Foundation partnered with the Broadway Market and City of Buffalo Mayor's Office for Black History Month at the Broadway Market, held every Saturday in February from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Through the Bills Foundation's support, when a customer makes a purchase from a Black-owned business at the Broadway Market, they will receive a $25 dollar gift certificate to use at participating Black-owned businesses.

In addition, there will be live music at the Broadway Market for patrons to enjoy as they shop.

"For us at the Market, we think it's important to celebrate Black History Month and we're happy to do it with the Bills Foundation and the city," said Market Manager Kathleen Peterson.

The Buffalo Bills partnered with Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals to support a "Join Week" from Feb. 4-11 with events for current and prospective members to grow as professionals and be self-advocates.

Geared toward empowering and advocating for 21 to 40-year-olds in their professional development, the theme of the week is Young Professionals' Renaissance.

"It's amazing," said BULYP president Darnell Haywood. "I mean, myself, I fit into the age group between 21 and 40, so it's great just being able to feed off some of my peers as well as seeing and being a mentor for those that are younger than me, utilizing my skills as well as also learning from each other."

The week will include a "Headshots and Handshakes" event, where young professionals can take headshots and get assistance with resumes and tips on how to network. The event will be Thursday, Feb. 8 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Buffalo Urban League facility located at 15 Genesee St.

A full schedule of the Buffalo Urban League Young Professional's "Join Week" can be found at this link.