Coming to your town: Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?‏

February 20th, 2015

Dear ROPnet,

Between September 4th and 9th, over 600 small town and rural Oregonians attended a tour of the Conversation Project “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?: A Hidden History,” facilitated by organizer, author, and educator Walidah Imarisha. Every stop was organized by human dignity group leaders from across the state, including Grants Pass, Redmond, Astoria, Albany, Newport, and Bay City — and every room was packed! Click here for stories and photos from the tour, and click here for the update on what organizing was sparked by these events!

By popular demand, ROP is teaming up again with Oregon Humanities to offer human dignity groups the opportunity to host a stop on the upcoming September 2015 tour of “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?: A Hidden History”!

“Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?: A Hidden History” is described as:

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 leads 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 not only for Black Oregonians but all Oregonians.

This is a great opportunity for your human dignity group to start a conversation about racial justice in your community and to collectively brainstorm ways your community can engage in racial justice organizing. With such a powerful educational program, it is easy to get local officials, libraries, Rotary Clubs, and other unanticipated allies in the room together. Not to mention that several of the human dignity groups who hosted the previous tour found that the event allowed for them to recruit a whole new crew of group members, eager to share the work moving forward!

Is your group interested in hosting? Are you looking to start a group and you’d like to kick it off with this event? ROP is eager to give rural communities the support and tools needed to make this event a success, even if you’ve never hosted an event before! We ask that hosts commit to:

Booking a venue, making sure it is set-up and ready for the event, bringing refreshments for attendees
Doing good outreach to get at least 25 people to attend the event (ROP can help you come up with a plan!)
Contacting media to cover the event
Holding a follow-up meeting to digest and dig into organizing next steps. This could be your normal human dignity group’s meeting (great way to recruit folks into your work with a racial justice lens!) or a separate meeting time. ROP can help you come up with an agenda and a plan for facilitating!
Are you interested in bringing this conversation project to your community? Email me at and let’s set a time to get on the phone!