By Stacy M. Brown
National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., helped to eulogize the Challenger Community News Journalist Katherine Massey in Buffalo on Monday, May 23, telling the gathering at Pilgrim Baptist Church that the 72-year-old fought for freedom, justice, and equality.
Like the Buffalo Criterion, the Challenger Community News counts among the more than 230 African American newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America. A trade association, the NNPA represents the Black Press of America.
“I am here to celebrate the life of a freedom fighting sister, a courageous Black woman,” Chavis declared during a five-minute speech that earned multiple standing ovations from mourners and others, including Mayor Byron Brown.
“The question now is what are we going to do in our anger, in our pain? We should learn from Katherine Massey … this African queen,” Chavis demanded.
“It’s in our tradition that when one is taken from us to pay our respects. But the greatest way we can pay our respects to Katherine Massey is to keep her spirit alive, keep her journalism alive.”
The city’s first African American and longest serving mayor, Brown called Massey a strong and proud Black woman.
“She was proficient in her history, proficient in her culture, and a lover of all people,” Brown declared. “She was a constant presence in our community. A warm and welcoming spirit who had a beautiful and brilliant smile that could light up the atmosphere, cut through every conflict, and warm your heart.”
Brown said Massey attended every event meant to uplift and improve the city and its neighborhoods.
“She was called a Queen Mother of Cherry Street, but more than that, she was like a governor. She was the Queen Mother of this community,” Brown remarked.
“Katherine Massey was a leader who led with warmth and intelligence and the power of her pen,” he stated.
Massey counted among the 10 African Americans killed on May 14, when self-proclaimed white supremacist Payton Gendron donned body armer, entered the Tops Supermarket with an assault rifle, and opened fire.
Three others were injured in the terror attack.
Authorities are holding Gendron without bail, and the 18-year-old faces 10 counts of murder and several other charges.
According to an online obituary, Massey was the daughter of Robert and Kate Massey.
She leaves behind a sister, Barbara Mapps, and brother, Warren Massey.
“A friend of mine, James Baldwin, used to tell me, ‘Ben, the pen in mightier than the sword,’” Chavis asserted. “Who is going to pick up Katherine Massey’s sword? Who is going to write the truth? We’ve come through a lot as a people. Not only does Buffalo need a healing, but America needs a healing.”
Pilgrim Baptist Church Pastor Frank Bostic joined Chavis and Brown and each pledged to discuss the future of Buffalo at a private meeting.
“On behalf of Kat Massey, and all those precious lives we lost in this hateful attack, we will build better,” Brown asserted.
“We will build stronger, and we will show the world that there is no place for evil like this. There is no place for hate like this. We owe it to the life and legacy of Kat Massey.”