Dunkirk’s East Second Street now features some new signage. Above the normal street sign, there is a new one as the street is now dedicated to Friendly Baptist Church pastor, the Rev. Early G. Waller.
On Friday afternoon, Waller, his family, members of his church, city of Dunkirk officials, as well as a variety of other guests met at the Friendly Baptist Church at 18 E. Second St. to recognize his accomplishments to the community as the sign was unveiled.
“Our father has always been right there,” said the Rev. Waller’s son, Early Waller. “There is no one more deserving. This is awesome.”
The process to name the street in Waller’s honor started months ago, when Waller’s family made a presentation to the Dunkirk Common Council. They then took matters further, going to Mayor Wilfred Rosas’ home to continue their push. Rosas said he was a supporter from the beginning.
“His family came to my home and asked for this to happen,” Rosas said. “I told them it had to go through the City Council and I commend the council for deciding to go ahead and do this thing. It’s important we recognize leaders in this community and he’s been a leader for many years.”
Councilman Don Williams made the hardest push to get the resolution passed, and was the one to present Waller with an additional copy of the sign. With all of the good that Waller has done for the city of Dunkirk over his many decades of service, especially for African-American residents, Rosas is happy to see Waller recognized as a true leader.
“I think it’s very important that we recognize and acknowledge the leadership and community service of Rev. Waller,” Rosas said. “He’s done a lot of things in the city, for many decades. He’s done a lot of community service and was involved in bringing much needed housing for African Americans in this community many decades ago, and he’s been a leader ever since.”
Rosas said he has always looked up to Waller, even before becoming mayor, making the designation of the street that much more special to him. Rosas noted that Waller’s accomplishments should serve as an inspiration for the future leaders who are currently growing up.
“This community has to change and start acknowledging it’s leaders, and sometimes those leaders come in different colors,” Rosas said. “To know the city is acknowledging that is a warm feeling for me. I’ve known him for many years and he has been a role model, and I ask all of our younger generation to stand up and become leaders.”
Waller was born in 1944 in Mississippi, and moved to Dunkirk with his uncle after high school. From there, he’s worked at various places in the area, including Welch’s and Dunkirk Radiator. Waller later became involved in the local NAACP chapter, leading efforts to get affordable housing built throughout the city. And for all those accomplishments, he now sees the street where his church is located with his name on it.
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