The Kind of Oregon We All Deserve

This week, hundreds of rural Oregonians are coming together to discuss history, power and racial justice through the small town tour of “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?: A Hidden History”.  Friday night, after over 75 people came together at the Cottage Grove Public Library for the powerful program, several people were surveilled, harassed and threatened for their participation as they walked to their cars.

ROP is proud to work with thousands of brave rural Oregonians who are continuing to hold space for real community dialog rooted in integrity, justice and inclusivity.  In a moment where the climate in many of our communities is turning toward divisiveness, aggression and fear, it is those of us who show up time and time again for the hard work that inclusive democracy requires, who boldly share their vision of healthy and vibrant communities, who shine a bright light on injustice instead of letting it remain in the shadows, who are going to guide us through to the kind of Oregon we all deserve.

We invite you to help us shine light on this injustice: share the joint statement ROP and Oregon Humanities released today (see below), attend one of the last three events in our tour, let us know whether you see this kind of activity in your community, and join us in the struggle to reclaim our voices as rural Oregonians for human dignity and racial justice.  Because of this alarming trend, we will be convening leaders across the state to share strategies and tactics exposing and responding to threats, harassment and acts of intimidation at the Rural Caucus & Strategy Session on Saturday, May 14th in Bend.

Leaders in Cottage Grove have immediately responded and are working with those who were threatened and other community members to build a broader campaign rooted in shared community values.  We will share more details soon.

Let’s raise our voices together, for when we are united we are far too powerful to be intimidated into silence. 

This month, the Rural Organizing Project and Oregon Humanities are proud to again offer public conversations about Oregon’s history and living legacy of race, identity, and power in our communities and Oregon institutions. Presented in six rural communities, the program “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon? A Hidden History” is intended to provide a safe, supportive environment for community members to learn and talk about topics that can often raise complex feelings and responses.

Last weekend’s event at the Cottage Grove Public Library was standing room only, bringing together seventy-five participants. When leaving the event and heading to their cars, several program participants were surveilled, harassed, and threatened with physical harm.

This is an alarming trend both organizations are seeing in our work about race across Oregon. Disruptions, threats, and acts of intimidation have been used to silence communities and shut down public conversation. And in this moment of great political polarization, we have become more committed than ever to creating spaces where people can come together despite their differences and engage in respectful, meaningful conversations about the difficult issues affecting all of our lives.

The Rural Organizing Project and Oregon Humanities believe that bringing people together to think through tough issues like race and power is a necessary part of building strong, safe, and connected communities. This is the only way to truly understand each other’s perspectives and work toward finding the shared ground among them.

These public conversations offer opportunities for us to make sense of the collective challenges we and our neighbors face as we work toward solutions. ROP and OH believe that there is no room for violence or intimidation in these conversations or in our communities. Just as we seek to build safe and welcoming communities for all, so are we committed to creating a safe and welcoming space for community dialogue.

We have three more community conversations in this series scheduled for later this week in La Grande, Prineville, and Scappoose. We will continue to be inclusive in these spaces so that all participants are able to express their thoughts and views, and vigilant in ensuring that no one feels unsafe. We believe all Oregonians have the right to live and convene in peace, without threats of violence or intimidation. Our communities are stronger when we can.

We hope you will join us at one of our final tour stops, showing your support of the presenters and participants, and modeling the kind of Oregon we all deserve.

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 14 at 6:30pm Photo credit Pete Shaw.
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
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