In closing the 200th birth year of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) is inviting the public to an important and timely community conversation which intersects the social justice missions of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  (1929-1968). On Common Ground: Exploring parks and social justice through F.L. Olmsted and Dr. King is free and open to the public and will take place on May 16th from 6pm to 8pm at the Buffalo Museum of Science auditorium.

Both leaders of their generations, Olmsted designed parks for all people and envisioned Buffalo to be a “city within a park”; King led the charge for social and racial justice throughout North America and around the world. At this community conversation, we will explore how Mr. Olmsted’s philosophies and Dr. King’s values intersect and align, as together we consider the role of parks and greenspaces through the lens of equity and justice. This contemplative and creative dialogue will reflect on 100 years between these visionary men.

“Buffalo is blessed to have one of, if not the only, parks in the nation designed by Olmsted and renamed for Dr. King,” said Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director, BOPC. “This park is as iconic as these great men, and the future of all our parks must consider their principled past.”

BOPC has invited renowned experts and scholars on Dr. King and Mr. Olmsted to share their perspectives with the community as part of this inspiring conversation.  Sara Zewde is founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design firm in New York City practicing landscape architecture, urbanism, and public art.  Sara designed and leads “Cotton Kingdom, Now,” a Harvard course which retraces F.L. Olmsted’s travels through the South as written in his 1861 book “The Cotton Kingdom.”  Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders, is a scholar on Dr. King and Assistant Professor specializing in African American History at The University of Colorado Boulder. Her research specializes in public memory of history, Black culture, and the Civil War.

Brother Clifford Bell of the Buffalo African American Museum will open by reflecting on the values of King and Olmsted as he leads the invocation and a prayer in acknowledgement of the victims of the May 14th shooting.  Jillian Hanesworth, the first ever Poet Laureate of Buffalo, New York, a community organizer, recording artist and activist will serve as emcee, and Wil Green, Director of Outreach & Community Engagement at the University at Buffalo will moderate this important conversation.

This event is sponsored by M&T Bank and The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, and in partnership with the Buffalo Museum of Science and Buffalo African American Museum. For more information, please visit