The History of the Buffalo Criterion Newspaper


By Andy Young and Tim Keegan | City of Buffalo | Spectrum News 1 through editor and editor

BUFFALO, NY – Frank Merriweather III was practically born with ink on his fingertips.

“It’s a great story,” Merriweather said. “I’m watching because I said of all things you know why my grandparents would start a diary?”

His grandparents were visionaries. Frank and Carmelita Merriweather opened a printing business in 1923 and a few years later launched the Buffalo Criterion Newspaper. For nearly a century now, the family business has been continuously documenting stories from the perspective of Buffalo’s black community.

“It’s politics, business, social concerns, all kinds of community-building concerns that you can do with your newspaper,” Merriweather said.

Frank’s parents eventually took over the Criterion. In fact, the very library where we spoke is named after his father, Frank Merriweather Jr. It was his father who taught him how to use a camera. The third generation newspaper is now under his direction.

“History is your standard in life,” Merriweather said. “Whatever you do, I believe you need to see each other.”

“My main focus has always been on little-known facts about black history, like the black Irish,” said columnist Eva M. Doyle.

Among the Criterion’s team of writers, Doyle, an educator and historian, has written her Eye on History column in the newspaper for more than 40 years.

“I believe you can have a lot of knowledge about a lot of things, but if you don’t share that knowledge, what’s the use?” Doyle asked.

Over the years she has interviewed people like the wife of Malcolm X and the great Muhammad Ali. But what she sees as most critical is bringing the lessons of the past to the present.

“It’s important for us to know that history, to apply it to today and it encourages young people to say you know what, I want to be like that person,” Doyle said.

And for Frank Merriweather III, it’s a lifetime of work that began decades before he was born.

“It’s nice to know that you’re part of building a community and really spreading the word, and that you have columnists you can trust and believe in,” Merriweather said.

The Buffalo Criterion is published weekly, as it has been for almost 100 years. Frank Merriweather and his team say the landscape of the newspaper industry is constantly changing with new technologies and reader habits, so they will need to continue to adapt to exist for another 100 years.

This article was originally published by Spectrum News 1.

Help us continue to tell OUR story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members! Join here!


Comments are closed.