Spring 2022

Issue 123:1

In this issue, authors explore themes of White supremacy in early-twentieth-century Oregon art, an exhibit on display at the Oregon Historical Society marking Portland Jobs with Justice’s thirtieth anniversary, and an oral history with labor activist Margaret Butler, who was a founder of Portland Jobs with Justice.

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In this Issue

“The Coming of the White Man”: Onetime Oregon White Supremacist Icon

by Jeffry Uecker

Artworks depicting Native people witnessing Euro-descendent newcomers’ arrival — who are unaware of the Native peoples’ presence — were common in nineteenth-century America. As important tools for justifying settler colonist values and providing a visual grounding for White supremacy, such compositions continued into the twentieth century and were especially prevalent in northwest Oregon through the 1930s. In this research article, author Jeffry Uecker traces the development of “The Coming of the White Man,” (CWM) a unique artistic arrangement in Oregon that depicted Native people as an ineffectual population without a relevant past. He describes CWM’s key role in reflecting White people’s anxiety over social change and in supporting the state’s long tradition of racial inequity — a role that helped define Oregon’s enduring settler colonialist origin story and paved the way for the eventual profusion of settler or “pioneer” imagery.

Building Solidarity for 30 Years: Portland Jobs with Justice

by Nikki Mandell

This exhibit essay complements Building Solidary for 30 Years: Portland Jobs with Justice, on display at the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) from February 11 to May 15, 2022. Co-curator Nikki Mandell delves into key aspects of the organization’s history, taking a thematic rather than strictly chronological approach, to highlight how Portland Jobs with Justice (JwJ) sought to restore workers’ rights and build working-class power through worker-community alliances. As a leading chapter in the national JwJ network, the Portland JwJ story offers insight into the rise of new strategies to protect workers’ rights that engaged broad coalitions of labor, faith, and social justice groups in both traditional union campaigns and campaigns for the common good. The JwJ approach yielded some remarkable successes, but not the transformative changes to which JwJ initially aspired. This article, like the exhibit, is based on the Portland JwJ papers (recently donated to OHS), oral interviews also held by OHS’s research library, and supplementary interviews conducted as part of the exhibit development.

Oral History with Margaret Butler: Advocate for Workers’ Rights and Jobs with Justice

by Laurie Mercier, with Margaret Butler

In this Oregon Voices piece, Laurie Mercier highlights the work of Margaret Butler, a labor activist who helped to build an action-based workers’ right movement in Portland, Oregon, beginning in the late 1980s. Attracted to labor-community alliances, such as those built by Jobs with Justice (JwJ), she worked with other labor activists to form a Portland JwJ chapter in 1991. Through excerpts from Butler’s oral history and personal interviews, Mercier documents the labor activist’s passion and influence in “shap[ing] what remains an important labor-community coalition in Portland.” As Mercier attests, “Margaret Butler’s reminiscences are important for understanding how she became a labor activist and leader as well as how a key social justice organization addressed the economic challenges of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Butler’s oral history interview as well as Portland JwJ records are held in the Oregon Historical Society’s research library collections.

On the Cover

On September 8, 1965, more than 800 Filipino farm workers, affiliated with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), walked off grape vineyards in and around Delano, California, to protest years of poor pay and working conditions. The National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), led by César Chávez, joined the cause one week later in what would become a five-year strike that included consumer boycotts, marches, and nonviolent resistance inspired by the civil rights movement. NFWA called for its first boycott in December 1965, aimed at the Schenley Industries liquor company, which was the second largest grape grower in Delano. Supporters gathered at liquor stores and bars across the country, including in Oregon, to protest the sale of Schenley products. Here, picketers show solidarity with farm workers in front of a state liquor store in Portland, Oregon. This image, published on March 4, 1966, in the Valley Migrant League’s Opportunity News, is viewable online on OHS Digital Collections. OHS Research Library, Valley Migrant League photographs, Org. Lot 74, box 3, neg. 0401.

 

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