Book Talk, Lunch and Learn, Online Video     

Black Abolitionists and Mercantile Frontiers: A. H. Francis and His Circle, 1835–1864

Join us for a presentation with Dr. Kenneth Hawkins on the life and achievements of Black abolitionist and merchant Abner Hunt Francis, with remarks from Kimberly Stowers Moreland on the significance of Francis's accomplishments today.

Francis operated a prosperous mercantile store on Front Street in Portland until 1861. Throughout the mid-1800s, Francis used his position to fight for Black people on the frontiers from western New York to the Pacific Coast. He wrote letters to his friend Frederick Douglass about the conditions for Black people in Oregon and his successful resistance to the state’s Black exclusion laws, which Douglass published in his abolitionist newspaper. Even with these written accounts, histories of the Oregon Territory and its commercial port often ignored, ridiculed, or misrepresented Francis and his work to gain equal rights for Black people in America. By bringing to light an accurate narrative of his life and those who helped and opposed him, this presentation adds critical complexity and nuance to this period in Oregon history.

Dr. Kenneth Hawkins earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history at the University of Rochester in 1991. He was associate editor of volume 6 and 7 of the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992–1997). In 1993, he joined the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as an archivist, where he worked as the information technology program manager for the transfer of presidential electronic records from the George W. Bush and Barack Obama White Houses to NARA. He retired in 2020 to resume researching and writing Oregon history. 

Ken Hawkins

Kimberly Stowers Moreland, MBA, MURP, is the vice president of the Oregon Black Pioneers (OBP) and owner of Moreland Resource Consulting where she uses her 25+ years of urban planning, economic development, and historic preservation experience to connect community builders to their local history and resources. On behalf of the OBP, she authored Images of America: African Americans of Portland. In 1995, she was on the project team that produced Cornerstones of CommunityThe Buildings of Portland’s African American History. Currently, she is involved in efforts to produce a Multiple Property Documentation (MPD) history project for African American Resources in Oregon. 

Kimberly Moreland

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