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John Baker’s portrait of Mama Charlene Caver Miller for The Freedom Wall, 2017

John Baker’s portrait of Mama Charlene Caver Miller for The Freedom Wall, 2017. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Mama Charlene Caver Miller

American, born 1944

Growing up, civil rights activism was a family affair for “Mama” Charlene Caver Miller. Alongside her parents and siblings, Miller participated in sit-ins to protest the segregation of beaches, libraries, restaurants, and banks in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. She marched with her mother, one of the first African American graduates of the local police academy, for inclusive and representative hiring in the city’s fire, health, and police departments.

“All the things I do all over this city is what I was raised doing,” Miller says. She is a powerhouse of community service in Buffalo, volunteering for local block clubs, food pantries, and The Challenger as well as the American Red Cross, NAACP, YMCA, and other religious and public organizations dedicated to helping those in need. Feeding the hungry, especially young people, is a particular calling for Miller. She takes her guidance from a passage from the biblical Sermon on the Mount: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Miller’s home and her heart are perpetually open, and she helps steward youth in our region with a combination of tenderness and fearlessness.

Last updated 2019
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