On February 16, Ina J. Ferguson received the “The Best of Buffalo: Public Policy Award” during the Black, Puerto Rican & Asian legislative caucus.
Ferguson spent her working career caring for the sick and elderly in Buffalo as a Certified Nursing Assistant. During that time, she was an 1199 activist, being one of mobilizers when Grace Manor Nursing Home went on strike 2005. Since her retirement, she has continued to participate in every aspect of union life! “If it wasn’t for my union, I wouldn’t be doing the work I’m doing today. 1199 taught me how to stand up for what I want,” she says.
Ferguson serves on the executive board for the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), is Vice President of the Labor Council of Latin American Advancement, and an active member of Citizen Action and the Working Families Party. A major player in the progressive movement in Buffalo, her true passion is education. “Every child deserves to be educated, regardless of where they came from,” she says.
When Buffalo had one of the highest school suspension rates for Black and Latino children, Ferguson was front and center, calling on leaders to change the code of conduct of Buffalo Public Schools. After successfully changing the policy, she continued her quest by calling for restorative justice in our school systems. Restorative justice gives children an opportunity to restore their offense, instead of automatically suspending or arresting them. During Caucus weekend, Ferguson served on a panel discussing restorative justice and how we need to think of new ways to engage our youth into positive activities.
“Ina is always working for the interest of the children, the young people we want to reclaim. She has done phenomenal work on restorative justice and working to change the code of conduct in the Buffalo school system. The work Ina has done for our children will make a difference for generations to come,” said Assemblywoman and Legislative Caucus chairwoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.