BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As the community mourns the 10 lives stolen one year ago, events are planned all throughout the city for our neighbors to lean on each other, and to reflect on the May 14 attack.

“These people were the best of us,” said Dr. Eva M. Doyle, a local columnist and educator. “This white supremacist killer took the best of us when he killed people just because of the color of their skin.”

Doyle has called Western New York her classroom for decades, teaching little known facts of Black history, that aren’t found in the textbook pages. Doyle, knew some of the victims personally, including Katherine Massey.

“The last time I saw her, there was a huge meeting not far from the Tops — on the corner of Jefferson and Genesee, that’s been named in her honor,” Doyle said. “There were about 200 people there from local, state government, community members, and the whole thing was what do we do about these illegal guns. This was before the massacre.”

According to Doyle, Massey was very vocal against illegal guns in the African-American community, and the community misses her voice.

“These were good people. These were people who made contributions, these were people –many of them of faith, people who helped and served the community,” Doyle said. “I have written a lot of articles about that day, and I always say this at the end–these people were the best of us.”

Doyle is known for her work and focuses on bringing light on little unknown facts of Black History, and focusing on the positives found in her community, the East Side and that a lot people were helping each other in the community once the cameras left.

“This is why I do the work that I do to educate people–both black and white-to let them know that we have, as the East Side of Buffalo, we have strong roots in the city of Buffalo,” said Doyle. “When that happened on May 14, it was very devastating, I considered it to be an attack, a terrorist attack on the African American community. That somebody came into our community with the goal to kill Black people, just because the color of their skin.”

Doyle wanted to come up with something where people could do something on a personal level — especially for those who are not going to go out to one of the events this weekend.

“Some people are still afraid of crowds, given the reality of today, I understand that and some people who might in the African American community don’t want to go to Tops,” she said. “They don’t want any part of Tops because of what happened there.”

Doyle is requesting residents from all over WNY, the city and the suburbs, to keep their front porch lights on, to signify unity throughout the community Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

“It will bring people together. It will unify people around something I think that’s what’s missing. We have to come together no matter who, where we are, where we live, to come together in unity and say in one voice that we are against this hate. We are against this evilness in our society,” said Doyle. “People are grappling with so many issues, so this way, to me it will bring about some peace, at least for a time.”

She says lights, especially white lights, signify peace and reflection during this weekend.

As a former teacher, Doyle taught during the Challenger Explosion, the morning of 9/11, and she said she lost a lot of her students to street violence. She says if she were in the classroom teaching youth following 5/14, she would give them an opportunity to express their feelings to help their mental health.

“Whenever there was a tragedy in our nation or city. One of the things that worked because I am a writer, I have my students keep journals so they could write about whatever is bothering them,” said Doyle. “We have to keep talking. Don’t let it drop just because we’re coming up to the end of this upcoming weekend.”

To read some of Doyle’s work, visit her website here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.