““Freedom, Justice and Equality for All, Love of God and Our Fellow Man; Doing All the Good We Can for Our Community," Andrew J. Smitherman (1883-1961). The Purpose of the Buffalo Empire Star is to keep the African-American community informed about past, current and future events to continue onward in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality in the spirt of the underground railroad pioneers.

Mzee Bro. Simba Mlee: in loving memory

Bro. Simba Mlee (1933-2010), Elder, Photographer, cultural visionary

I met Bro. Simba many years ago when I married Buffalo News journalist Carl R. Allen (1955-1999), an award-winning writer . Simba as we all lovingly called him documented the history of the black community in Buffalo from many venues, including as a photographer for the Challenger Newspaper for many years. He told me many things about his past life, including teaching Black history in the New York City University system.

One thing about Bro. Simba is:  he loved black folks and loved his community, dedicating himself to documenting it through the lens of a camera. He would not take no for an answer when he wanted something, particularly if it benefited the black community. He was sensitive to black exploitation and confronted it with his camera.

He wanted to move and settle in Africa but his health prevented him in his later years, but he continued to shoot photos of his beloved black community where he drew his strength like the African ancestors he spoke so much about.  In the last days of his life, he walked slowly with a cane, still smiling and radiating warmth and always greeted his friends with “Peace & Love.”

On behalf of the Buffalo  African-American community, Bro. Simba may you join the ancestors and rest with them in peace. And as Bro Ken Nixon so lovingly said, “Be in God’s grace: Mzee Bro. Simba Mlee, Elder, photographer, historian, and cultural visionary. Peace and Love.”

Funeral is Sat August 7th True Bethel Church on 472 Swan Street at 1:30. Bring a dish to share after funeral at the church. Donations to help with cost of funeral and other matters of Bro. Simba call: 716 563-9958

more on Bro. Simba: Source Bro. Ken Nixon, Facebook:

Bro. Mzee Simba Mlee passed last night. A beacon whose vision and skill are immortalized in photographs that span nearly 50 years. Bro. Simba, like Ishmael Reed, Max Roach, and many other kindred spirits, contributed to organizing and building THE EAST (Claver Place, Brooklyn, NY) inspiring so many of us. Bro. Simba, may God keep you in the peace and love that you so graciously offered many of us.

Mzee Simba MLee made a history in photographs. A long time resident of Buffalo, Bro. Simba had strong roots in Brooklyn. I first met him in 1973. Almost 20 years later, in August 1991, Bro. Simba photographed myself, Sonny Carson, then Mayor David Dinkins, Enoch Williams, Bishop Charles Andrew McNeil, and members of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic Sect, who met to find a way to stop the Crown Heights Riots.

Bro. Simba was a humble doer and would offer up whatever he had or could do. Bro. Simba was a longtime friend of jazzz musician Gil Scott-Heron. Offering to take Scott-Heron in, in 2004, Bro. Simba and I drove from Buffalo to DC to ‘relocate’ Gil Scott-Heron. The effort failed. We prayed as our brother Gil spiraled out of control, spending the next few years in jail.


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