Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years

Black United Front leader, Ron Herndon, stands on a desk at a School Board protest against the closure of Harriet Tubman Middle School, March 30, 1982. Steve Nehl, Oregon Journal. OrHi 95005 ba018353

January 15 – June 24, 2018

  • Free for Members
  • Family-friendly
  • Teachers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Location:
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
Get Directions


Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years

Presented by the Oregon Black Pioneers.

Racing to Change illuminates the Civil Rights Movement in Oregon in the 1960s and 1970s, a time of cultural and social upheaval, conflict, and change. The era brought new militant voices into a clash with traditional organizations of power, both Black and White.

Visitors of all ages and backgrounds will engage in the examination of the repression and violence against African Americans that made the Civil Rights Movement necessary. The exhibit explores how racist attitudes, policies of exclusion, and the destruction of Black-owned neighborhoods shaped Oregon, as well as the unceasing efforts of the Black community to overcome these obstacles.

Programs & Events

All programs are free & open to the public!


Civil Rights, Then and Now: 1960s & 1970s Civil Rights Leaders and 2010s Social Justice Activists

Sunday, February 11, 2018
2pm – 3:30pm

Oregon Historical Society

Learn about the connections between the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s & 1970s and the social justice movements that are currently occurring—how things have changed, how they have stayed the same, and what you can do to get involved.

History Pub: Women of the Civil Rights Movement

Monday, March 26, 2018
7pm – 8:30pm

McMenamins Kennedy School

This panel discussion will cover traditionally untold stories of the Civil Rights Movement, specifically the role of women of color. Featured panelists include Joyce Harris, Senator Jackie Winters, Charmaine Coleman, and Charlotte Rutherford; Joy Alise Davis will act as the facilitator.

Student Activists: The Civil Rights Histories of Oregon's Universities and Colleges

Saturday, April 14, 2018
1pm – 3pm

Oregon State University, Corvallis Campus

Attendees will learn about what was happening during the Civil Rights Movement outside of Portland, specifically on college campuses and how those students and their allies shaped what higher education looks like for today's students.

Family Saturday: African Americans in Oregon

Saturday, May 19, 2018
12pm – 4pm

Oregon Historical Society

Families are invited to engage in the history of the Civil Rights Movement through hands-on, art-based activities.

Celebrate History and Make a Difference Now!

Saturday, June 9, 2018
2pm – 4pm

Oregon Historical Society

Exhibit closing celebration featuring presentations by local community organizations.

About the Oregon Black Pioneers

The state’s premier Black heritage organization is dedicated to illuminating African Americans’ contributions to Oregon’s history through research, publications, exhibits, and community outreach. The organization's newest exhibition, Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years, directly builds on three highly successful collaborations with the Oregon Historical Society and reflects the all-volunteer organization's increasing capacity to create meaningful opportunities for community dialogue and learning.

Oregon Black Pioneers

Sandra Ford, Portland Black Panthers City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2004-005.2975

Sandra Ford, Portland Black Panthers.
Demonstration in support of repressed peoples, U.S Courthouse, February 14, 1970
City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2004-005.2975

Black United Front leader, Ron Herndon, at School Board protest, March 30, 1982. Steve Nehl, Oregon Journal. OrHi 95005 ba018353

Black United Front leader, Ron Herndon, stands on a desk at a School Board protest against the closure of Harriet Tubman Middle School, March 30, 1982.
Steve Nehl, Oregon Journal. OrHi 95005 ba018353

Portland police in the Albina neighborhood, 1969. bb005811

Portland police in the Albina neighborhood, 1969.
bb005811

Albina Residents Picket the Portland Development Commission, 1973. Oregon Journal Collection, CN 023743

Albina Residents Picket against the Emmanuel Hospital Expansion project at the Portland Development Commission, 1973.
Oregon Journal Collection, CN 023743

Children helping with the Albina Neighborhood Improvement Project, 1962. City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2010-003

Children helping with the Albina Neighborhood Improvement Project, 1962.
City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2010-003

Housing Authority of Portland, NAACP petition presentation, May 15, 1962

Housing Authority of Portland, NAACP petition presentation, May 15, 1962.
Photographed by Hugh Ackroyd, Copyright historicphotoarchive.net

NAACP picketing City Hall, September 30, 1963

NAACP picketing City Hall, September 30, 1963.
Photographed by Hugh Ackroyd, copyright historicphotoarchive.net 

NAACP picketing City Hall, September 30, 1963

NAACP picketing City Hall, September 30, 1963.
Photographed by Hugh Ackroyd, copyright historicphotoarchive.net 

Department of Employment, Oregon State Employment Office, Job Placement Office. January 11, 1968

Department of Employment, Oregon State Employment Office, Job Placement
Office. January 11, 1968, Williams Avenue district.
Photographed by Allen deLay, copyright historicphotoarchive.net 

Albina Branch Public Library, January 11, 1968

Albina Branch Public Library, January 11, 1968, Portland, Oregon.
Photographed by Allen deLay, copyright historicphotoarchive.net 

Albina Negro story, Reverend Edward Wilder, St. Mark's Baptist Church, January 14, 1968

Albina Negro story, Reverend Edward Wilder, St. Mark's Baptist Church, 103 NE
Morris Street, January 14, 1968. Published in The Oregonian on January 21, 1968.
Photographed by Allen deLay, copyright historicphotoarchive.net 

McDonalds, Union & Fremont, voter registration drive

McDonalds, Union & Fremont, voter registration drive. Nate Proby (President,
United Minority Workers) administering oath to voter is Francis Newman, April 18, 1972.
Photographed by Allen deLay, copyright historicphotoarchive.net 

Members Opening Reception

Opening remarks from OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, newly-appointed Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson, Oregon Black Pioneers President Willie Richardson, and others.

News Coverage

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JENNIFER ANDERSON - Gwen Carr and other members of the nonprofit Oregon Black Pioneers stress that the current exhibit couldn't come at a more relevant time.'Racing to Change' connects past to present

By Jennifer Anderson, Portland Tribune, January 16, 2018

If you take one thing away from "Racing to Change," it's that history definitely repeats itself. The newest interactive exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society — focusing on Oregon's black pioneers during the civil rights era — is a powerful, educational and inspiring window into a world that might have technically passed but is still ever-present in today's Black Lives Matter movement and other race-related struggles. "There was lot of residual from Oregon's racial history — employment, public accommodation, housing issues" and other racist policies that have persisted, says Gwen Carr, board secretary of the Oregon Black Pioneers, the Salem-based nonprofit presenting the event.

On the Go with Joe at ‘Racing to Change’

By Joe Vithayathil, KPTV - FOX 12, January 15, 2018

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr Day, when Americans remember the civil rights leader and the fight for equality, and a new exhibit examines the civil rights movement here in Oregon. In history class, when students hear about the civil rights movement, they hear about far off places like Selma and Montgomery yet next to nothing about Portland, or Oregon in general. The work of Dr. King and so many others in the movement did, in fact, have a place and a purpose right here in the northwest, though. A new exhibit from the Oregon Historical Society titled “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years” documents the civil rights movement in the state during the 1960s and 1970s.

In Depth: MLK Day at OHS!

By KXL-Morning News, January 15th 2018

New exhibit on civil rights opens today at the Oregon Historical Society. Pat talked about it with Executive Director, Kerry Tymchuk.

Oregon Historical Society opens its doors for free for MLK Day

by Genevieve Reaume, KATU News, January 15th 2018

To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Monday, the Oregon Historical Society opened its doors for free to all visitors. Hundreds of people will get to see the historical society's new exhibit, "Racing for Change," which focuses on the civil rights movement in Oregon. Inside, attendees get to see iconic quotes from prominent figures in the movement, along with a book signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. "This tells the story of how community leaders here in Portland and across Oregon finally began to demand equal rights and civil rights," Kerry Tymchuk, executive director of OHS said. "It's a timely exhibit."

In 'Oregon's Civil Rights Years' exhibit, issues still resonate today

By Samantha Bakall, The Oregonian | OregonLive, January 11, 2018

Though the Oregon Historical Society's newest exhibit focuses on Oregon's civil rights experience decades ago, many of the central themes still feel relevant to today. Presented in partnership with the Oregon Black Pioneers, "Racing to Change: Oregon's Civil Rights Years," is the fourth exhibit in a chronological series from the African American heritage organization and the museum. The series, which began in 2011, has been cataloging African American life in Oregon from the 1700s toward present day. On display until June 24, the new exhibit details the social upheaval and conflicts black Oregonians faced during the 1960s and 1970s, and the progress, experimentation and joy the black community experienced as they played an essential role in building the state's social, cultural and economic base.

Black Pioneers’ New Exhibit Tell Stories of the Civil Rights Era

By Melanie Sevcenko, The Skanner News, NOVEMBER 22, 2017

At the start of a new year, the Oregon Black Pioneers will invite Oregonians to join them in what they do best – looking to their shared past. The historians’ newest and largest exhibit to date, “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years,” will open on Jan. 15 at the Oregon Historical Society and will offer visitors an opportunity to experience the struggles and achievements of the 1960s and 70s in their home state. For the past two years, the all-volunteer non-profit organization based in Salem has been collecting stories and overturning artifacts to compile an image of conflict, courage and change at a volatile time in history.