World War II brought a great wave of workers and their families from across the country to work in the shipyards of Portland, and the city’s African American population grew from 2,000 to about 22,000. Many of the newcomers came with a shared passion for rhythm-and-blues and contemporary, danceable jazz, but they had come to a very segregated city that offered few venues for black people to perform or to listen to music. In the latest episode of Oregon Experience, explore a vibrant but short-lived period of Portland history: the post-WWII eruption of music and nightlife in the North/Northeast part of town. This was a colorful and significant chapter in the city’s cultural narrative, but one that is largely unknown even to those who now live in the heart of the music scene on North Williams Avenue.
For decades, Oregon legally excluded black people from settling in the region. Despite racists laws and attitudes, some came anyway. “Oregon’s Black Pioneers” examines the earliest African-Americans who lived and worked in the region during the mid-1800s. They came as sailors, gold miners, farmers and slaves. Their numbers were small, by some estimates just 60 black residents in 1850, but they managed to create communities, and in some cases, take on racist laws — and win.
The Lewis & Clark Expedition was a pivotal moment in American history. But the story of York, a slave to William Clark from boyhood and comrade on this journey, has been obscured by omission and stereotype. Searching for York paints a portrait of this unofficial member of the Corps of Discovery as it discusses the ways in which history is written.
In an era when women were, in the words of Susan B. Anthony, “political slaves,” Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915) rose from quite ordinary beginnings as an Illinois farm girl to become a nationally famed champion of women’s suffrage, as well as a significant author and publisher. Duniway was a true pioneer or “path breaker,” known for her long and tireless efforts for women’s suffrage and women’s rights and as one of relatively few female newspaper editors and publishers of her time.
Until 1912, Oregon women lived by men’s law. They had few legal rights with little power to improve their lives or communities. That changed when women won the right to vote.
Mitch Landrieu served as mayor of New Orleans from 2010-2018. During his second term, he gained national prominence for advocating and overseeing the removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans, a historical and powerful decision that earned him the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. In his New York Times bestselling book, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, Landrieu recounts his personal journey on race and tackles the broader history of slavery, race relations, and institutional inequalities that still plague America.
In 1923, a Missouri lumber company built a town in northeastern Oregon named Maxville. Hundreds of loggers left Arkansas and Mississippi to live and work there. Many brought their families, and many were African Americans. While the town has long since disappeared, the Maxville story is still unfolding. The Logger’s Daughter follows Gwen Trice, an African-American woman who was born and raised in Eastern Oregon, as she sets out to explore her family’s past.
On April 1, 1908 Lola G. Baldwin was sworn in “to perform police service” for Portland, Oregon and became the nation’s first policewoman. As Superintendent of the new Women’s Protective Division, Detective Baldwin crusaded for the moral and physical welfare of young, single working women. Her goal was to prevent them from being lured into lives of prostitution and crime by offering positive alternatives and by making the city safe.
More than 30 years ago photographer Lloyd Smith bought a box of historic glass plate negatives at a garage sale. The box contained hundreds of photographs documenting rural life in Southern Oregon in the early 20th century. The images featured families posed in front of their homes, men and women working at everyday tasks, children at play, and just about all facets of rural life. Today, Smith has a collection of thousands of historic images, most from Southern Oregon dating from 1890 to 1910s.
Back in the early ‘60s, Russ Jackman, a retired OSU extension agent, and Reuben Long, a colorful Fort Rock Valley rancher, collaborated to create a book. The result, “The Oregon Desert,” was unique. It successfully blended natural science with cowboy humor and scholarly prose with casual meanderings. It was a celebration of rural Western storytelling, and over the years, it has become a Pacific Northwest classic.