Our free and inclusive Military-Grant Ride this coming Monday, October 22nd, will be hosted by the Ukrainian American Civic Center in Black Rock (205 Military Road, 6pm sharp start), a little-known cultural enclave that many of us were introduced to as part of a benefit for a squad member over the winter – the good vibes there led to an invitation to Slow Roll.
REPEATING: This is the Ukrainian American Civic Center in Black Rock, not the more widely-known Dnipro Ukrainian Center on Genesee Street.
To get the scoop on the UACC, we turn to third-generation member Nicolette Thompson.
When was the building built, what was its original function, and when did UACC move in?
The building was built for the club, as far as we know. The Club moved in upon its establishment, in 1912. The UACC is the oldest Ukrainian cultural center in Buffalo.
How does UACC contribute to our community?
Across its lifespan, the UACC has served as a social club overall – it was established to assist new immigrants in getting their citizenship and offering a place to continue their cultural traditions.
Today, we see that mission continue of course, but the club also encourages connections to our Ukrainian heritage. The lounge is open to our members and their guests on Thursday and Friday nights, as well as for special events. Our gallery features the work of local Ukrainian-American artists. Ukrainian Language classes are held on Thursday evenings. Pani H’s kitchen keeps us well-fed, featuring delicious traditional Ukrainian food and fish fry on Fridays.
What’s your favorite fun fact that few know about UACC?
The traditional St Nicholai play produced every December has provided gifts for children in the community for many years – this is many people’s most fond memory of their childhoods. In the years following World War II, members of the club would regularly study for their citizenship exams in the lounge, helping one another learn the language and history of the USA – some of that era’s members helped dozens of their friends with this amazing milestone in their lives.
A couple of tidbits about Ukrainian culture: it’s not the Ukraine – you wouldn’t say the Yugoslavia; Ukrainians are proud of their independence; Ukrainians speak their own language, not Russian, and are proud to encourage Ukrainian traditions.
What other events happen at UACC?
Cultural events such as Euromaidan to commemorate the wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on the night of November 21st, 2013, with public protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti – “Independence Square” – in Kiev.
Taras Shevchenko Night in March, which is a evening of poetry. He was a Ukrainian poet, writer, artist, public and political figure, as well as folklorist and ethnographer. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language.
Also, Punks Against Putin, which raises money to send medical supplies to the freedom Ukraine.
What should Slow Rollers look for there come Monday?
An awesome multi-generational atmosphere, authentic Ukrainian beers, and Ukrainian hospitality, which is second-to-none. Look for photos of members past and present, photos of the recent political tumult in Ukraine, and, in the words of John Lennon – the Ukraine girls really knock me out!
Look for our members, some of whom might just be decked out in traditional Ukrainian clothing – we’re happy to show you around & tell you about our wonderful culture & history.