Why Aren’t There More Black People In Oregon?: A Hidden History

Photo credit Pete Shaw
Photo credit Pete Shaw

It’s time! This week ROP in partnership with Oregon Humanities kicks off our second rural tour of the conversation project “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?: A Hidden History,” presented and facilitated by organizer and educator Walidah Imarisha. Starting tomorrow, the tour will travel to the communities of Cave Junction, Cottage Grove, Monmouth, La Grande, Prineville, and Scappoose. Scroll down for tour stops, dates and locations!

Following the presentation, local leaders will lead discussions about how we can begin to break down some of the obstacles we face when building the community we want to live in, a community where everyone is able to live their lives fully with safety, dignity, and justice. Several tour stops will also host follow-up conversations where participants will identify racial justice organizing next steps that take what they just learned and apply it to their human dignity group’s work locally.

We are in a moment where race is a national conversation, heightened with the recent violence against Black Lives Matter activists during the US Presidential primary race, rhetoric around immigration heating up, and so-called patriot groups claiming to speak for us as they suggest we should return to the “good ‘ole days.” To begin to shift the conversation, several communities will dig in deep and explore what racial justice can look like in Oregon. For example, the Cave Junction stop will learn about and digest how several Rogue Valley communities were once “sundown towns” and had active local chapters of the KKK; then they will discuss ways that folks can begin to break down some of the obstacles they face when building a community that values the human dignity of all its residents.

Below you’ll find the entire tour schedule with links to the Facebook events. Please RSVP and invite your group members, neighbors and friends!

ROP is thrilled to be working with Walidah, Oregon Humanities, and local leaders across the state to bring this tour to new communities in rural Oregon, and we hope you’ll join us at one of the events near you! Please consider arriving early as seating in each location is limited.

Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?: A Hidden History

Have you ever wondered why the Black population in Oregon is so small? Oregon has a history not only of Black exclusion and discrimination, but also of a vibrant Black culture that helped sustain many communities throughout the state — a history that is not taught in schools. Author and educator Walidah Imarisha will lead participants through an interactive timeline of Black history in Oregon that speaks to the history of race, identity, and power in this state and the nation. Participants will discuss how history, politics, and culture have shaped—and will continue to shape—the landscape for Oregonians.

Thursday, April 7 at 6:30pm
Cave Junction, Josephine County

Healthy U Center, 535 E. River St.
Sponsored by the Josephine County Racial Justice Working Group and Healthy U

Friday, April 8 at 6:30pm
Cottage Grove, Lane County

Shepherd Room, Cottage Grove Community Center, 700 E. Gibbs Ave.
Sponsored by the Blackberry Pie Society and the Cottage Grove Public Library
Sign up to attend this event on Facebook

Saturday, April 9 at 6:30pm
Monmouth, Polk County

Western Oregon University, Columbia Room, Werner College Center, 345 Monmouth Ave. N.
Sponsored by the ​Polk Community for Human Equality, Black Student Union, and Western Compass
Sign up to attend this event on Facebook

Thursday, April 14 at 6:30pm
La Grande, Union County

Eastern Oregon University in the Huber Auditorium, Room 102 in Badgley Hall One University Boulevard
Sponsored by Oregon Rural Action, C.U.R.R.E.N.T.s for Justice and Peace, Eastern Oregon University Multicultural Center,
Black Student Union, MESA, and SCMA

Friday, April 15 at 6:30pm
Prineville, Crook County

Broughton Room of the Crook County Library, 175 NW Meadowlakes Dr.
Sponsored by Human Dignity Advocates of Crook County
Sign up to attend this event on Facebook

Saturday, April 16 at 6:30pm
Scappoose, Columbia County

Scappoose High School Cafeteria, 33700 SE High School Way.
Sponsored by Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity,  Community Action Team, Familias Unidas, and the Scappoose Public Library
Sign up to attend this event on Facebook