African American History
About this Focus
Black History Month began as Negro History Week, established in February 1926 by historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950). Dr. Woodson, a Harvard graduate who was born to former slaves, was concerned that African American history had been ignored in U.S. educational curricula. He inaugurated Negro History Week to recognize African Americans’ role in the shaping of the nation’s history. Black History Month is an opportunity to honor the lives and achievements of African Americans.

Black History Month presents to all Oregonians the opportunity to remember and reflect on the experiences, historical contributions of, and injustices incurred by African Americans in Oregon. For example, territorial laws in the 1840s dictated the expulsion of African Americans, and the state constitution similarly prohibited African Americans from residence, a provision not repealed until 1926 and 1927. The laws were a deterrent to black migration. Despite the fact that the laws were not enforced and were effectively voided before they were at last repealed, they signalled that African Americans were not entirely welcome in Oregon.

This Focus page examines issues, historical moments, and people important to African American’s History in Oregon. We invite you to explore the Society’s primary source documents, Oregon Historical Quarterly articles, and internet links as you inquire into the vital presence of African Americans throughout Oregon’s history.
Other Recommended Resources
Focus on Oregon History
African American History in Oregon
Asian Pacific American History in Oregon
C.E.S. Wood Film Premiere
Gubernatorial History in Oregon
Lewis and Clark in Oregon
Reservation Life in Oregon
Wartime Portland
Women's History in Oregon