““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.

Jessie Mae Anderson, remembering a pioneer


Born Jessie Mae Hawthorne to Ethel Richard (Mother), and Jessie Hawthorne (Father) in Plain Dealing, Louisiana on May 3, 1913.

Jessie Mae completed High School in the South. Growing up in a family active in the church, she accepted the Lord into her life at an early age. Jessie Mae married Johnnie Glover Anderson (deceased) on June 23, 1941 in El Dorado, county of Union, state of Arkansas.

Into the 1940’s Jessie Mae and Johnnie moved to Buffalo, New York with their daughter Mary Grace (Coleman) Hunter (deceased), while later giving birth to a set of twin boys; James (Jimmy) and John (Jackie – deceased),

She was an outstanding mother and talented wife. Jessie Mae was early home-based business owner whose baking ability was renown equally as her crocheting & knitting, alnd sought by many. Jessie Mae over the years had various jobs; worked for AM&A’s as a seamstress, Chevrolet and Trico of Buffalo, as well as other jobs in an era that didn’t provide living wage employment especially for African Americans.

Jessie Mae was actively engaged in the welfare and betterment of her family through her constant interaction with schools as a PTA leader at P.S. 31, Tenant Organizer and extending her efforts by developing after-school programs in the Willert Park Courts (Alfred D. Price) Projects. She was an effective community leader & community mother well respected among her peers, neighbors and political leaders in Buffalo especially in the Ellicott District. She engaged in work and civic activities from the 50’s throughout the late 90’s until her retirement at age 85.

Jessie Mae and Johnnie both joined New Hope Baptist Church, while it was located at 63 Union Street under the pastorate of Rev. Nathaniel A. Mason, serving on the Nurses Guild, Sunday School assistant, Scouts Den Mother, and more. Her support and participation remained ongoing as the church moved to 543 Richmond Ave, Buffalo NY through the pastoral leadership of Rev. Joseph Moore, Rev. Jefferson, Rev. Paul F. Thompson into the present leadership of Rev. Herschel Chapman, Jr as health challenges began to overtake her.

Jessie Mae Anderson was preceded in death by her father-Jessie Hawthorne, mother-Ethel (Richard) Ratliff, grandmother-Lizzie Richard, brother-Allen Hawthorne, daughter-Mary Grace (Coleman) Hunter, son-John Anderson, stepsister-Ethel Mae Ratliff, stepdaughter-Minnie Ledford, granddaughter-Marcia Denise (Roger-deceased) Davis, grandson-Micheal (Shirley) Hunter. She leaves to cherish and continue onwards; son-James Anderson, granddaughters, Dawn Marie (Kenneth) Pittman, Susan Ann (Kevin)Cole, Dora Austin, Chantelle Austin, Safiya Renee Anderson (Tony) MacAlister, Paulette Witherspoon, grandson-Mark Edward (Maureen) Hunter, and a host great, great-great, great-great-great grandchildren, other family members and friends.


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