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Oregon’s Civil Rights Years

Black Pioneers share exhibit ‘Racing to Change’

Danny Peterson | 1/10/2018, 10:45 a.m.
The Oregon Black Pioneers exhibit “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years,” opens to the public on Monday, the Martin ...
Nate Proby of United Minority Workers administers an oath to Francis Newman during a voters registration drive in 1972 at the former McDonalds restaurant at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Fremont Street. Photo by Allen Delay/courtesy Oregon Historical Society

The Oregon Black Pioneers exhibit “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years,” opens to the public on Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Jan. 15, at the Portland Historical Society, downtown.

In celebration of the holiday and the opening of the exhibit, admission to the Oregon Historical Society museum will be free for the entire day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A photo from city of Portland archives and from an Oregon Black Pioneers exhibit opening at the Oregon Historical Society shows Sandra Ford of the Portland Black Panthers during a Feb. 14, 1970 demonstration at the U.S. Courthouse in support of repressed peoples.

A photo from city of Portland archives and from an Oregon Black Pioneers exhibit opening at the Oregon Historical Society shows Sandra Ford of the Portland Black Panthers during a Feb. 14, 1970 demonstration at the U.S. Courthouse in support of repressed peoples.

The showing is a groundbreaking exhibit and associated programs about the courage, struggle and progress of Oregon’s black residents during the civil rights movement in Oregon in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The exhibit, on view through June 24, will engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds as it traces how housing and employment discrimination practices affected Oregon’s black populations and spurred the civil rights movement in Oregon.

Racing to Change showcases an exciting period in Oregon and national history--while the 1960s and 1970s were filled with cultural and social upheaval, conflict, and change, it was also an era of celebration, experimentation, and achievement for African Americans.

Through the Civil Rights Movement, young people made their voices heard, and were propelled to be catalysts for change within their communities. The exhibit also shares how established, vibrant black communities held together in the face of public works funded demolition of homes and businesses, disruptive school integration measures, and other challenges.

"We hope that visitors to this exhibit will be inspired by the efforts of national and local civil rights activists and ordinary people who sacrificed their time, talent, and sometimes their lives for socioeconomic change. Most of all, we hope to encourage visitors, through their own personal capacity, to contribute to the fight for justice, equity, and inclusion in their respective communities," said Kim Moreland, exhibit co-leader.