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A Community on the Move

Exhibit produced by Oregon Black Pioneers

2/18/2015, 12:37 p.m.
The Oregon Historical Society has opened the third exhibition in a series produced by the Oregon Black Pioneers.
Houses and other buildings are ripped from their foundations when Vanport is washed away by floodwaters in 1948. A large African-American community was displaced.

A historical photo from Portland’s 10th annual Les Femmes Deputante Ball.

A historical photo from Portland’s 10th annual Les Femmes Deputante Ball.

The Oregon Historical Society has opened A Community on the Move, the third exhibition in a series produced by the Oregon Black Pioneers.

This groundbreaking show at the Oregon Historical Society explains how the World War II shipyards, migration from the South, the Vanport Flood, and urban renewal projects impacted Portland’s black families and businesses of the 1940s and 1950s

The Oregon Black Pioneers partnered with the Oregon Historical Society to create and open the exhibit for Black History Month. Scheduled to continue through June 28 at the Oregon Historical Society museum, 1200 S.W. Park Ave., the event will include interactive displays, associated public programs, and educational tours have been designed to engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds and reveal the courage and persistence of black families who lived during this tumultuous era.

A photo from city of Portland archives shows Ninie Mae Locke, one of the thousands of African-American laborers who went to work in the Portland shipyards during World War II building Victory ships.

A photo from city of Portland archives shows Ninie Mae Locke, one of the thousands of African-American laborers who went to work in the Portland shipyards during World War II building Victory ships.

Designed in partnership with Alchemy of Design, this original exhibition draws on personal photographs, historic artifacts, and hands on experiences to illuminate Portland’s vibrant black community, which thrived despite a larger cultural and legal context of discrimination and displacement.

As present-day gentrification in Portland impacts historically black neighborhoods, the importance of acknowledging and understanding this little-known history is critical to our collective future. With this in mind, A Community on the Move has been designed so that visitors can connect and compare past conditions to our modern realities.

Throughout the exhibition’s run, community members will be invited to participate in special conversations with leaders and elders from Portland’s African American community.

Easter Sunday in 1949 at Bethel AME Church.

Easter Sunday in 1949 at Bethel AME Church.

These community conversations will take place throughout Portland, and a full list of these programs as well as other associated events can be found at oregonblackpioneers.org and ohs.org.

General admission is $11, and discounts are available for students, seniors, and youth. Admission is free every day to residents of Multnomah County and members of the Oregon Historical Society.