A Day of Outreach: OR Archives Crawl & OALP Concert

OR Archives Crawl & OALP Concert Flyers

It was a busy day for the OMA, but the best kind of busy since there were two opportunities to talk to community members about archives! Today the OMA participated in the Oregon Archives Crawl (both at the OSU and ATAP tables), and then headed off to an Obo Addy Legacy Project concert (OALP) to share the OALP’s history via the exhibit panels created for the Applause! exhibit. There are, of course, photos – check them out below:

First, the Oregon Archives Crawl 2014:

ATAP Table at OHS

The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) was one of the three Crawl locations and ATAP (American Theatre Archive Project) was there to showcase the great theatre archives advocacy work done all over the country. The OMA shared its local story of working with Portland’s Milagro theatre, and as a excellent bonus, Katrina O’Brien, Milagro’s archival intern was there as well.

OMA at the OSU Table

It was a bit of a back and forth between the ATAP table at the OHS location and the OMA at the OSU table over at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, but over at city archives, the OMA had the opportunity to give a short presentation highlighting a few OMA collections and projects. One of which was the OALP collection…

On to the second event of the day, the Obo Addy Legacy Project “Cross Cultural Rhythms” concert:

OALP Concert at the 40th Ave Garage

The concert included a variety of performers including various singer and poets. Concert attendees, including many children danced all night. And, the OMA brought copies of the Applause! exhibit panels to share with concert attendees!

Beautiful Poetry

Dancing!

 

OALP Exhibit Panels

Needless to say, it was a fantastic day for the OMA!

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The Urban League of Portland’s 2014 Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner

ULPDX EOD Dinner 2014 Program

It’s that time of year again – the Urban League of Portland (ULPDX) Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner! 

As we have done for the past several years, the OMA brought a display of ULPDX archival materials to share with dinner attendees. Each year we share information about the collection includes 480 images available online through the OMA Digital Collection, quick link “Urban League of Portland”, dozens of textual documents, including the organization’s Meeting Minutes and Newsletters, available through OSU’s institutional repository ScholarsArchive, and more information on the Urban League of Portland Online Collection.

Urban of Portland Archives Display

But this year was extra special, because we just happened to select a photo from the early 1990s that included two ladies, a grandmother and grand-daughter at the Whitney Young Jr. Center, that were dinner attendees and recognized themselves in the photo!

Gloria Phillips and her grand-daughter Chinara Shambry

Phillips is a long time member of the Urban League family and her grand-daughter also became a member at a very young age – it was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet these two ladies!

And, the event itself was of course, excellent. The theme for the evening was education and both the keynote speaker, Dr. Nancy Golden, and the honoree this year was Charlene Williams, gave inspiring speeches. Dr. Golden, is Oregon’s Chief Education Officer and Williams led Portland’s Roosevelt High School to an incredible improvement in the school’s overall academic performance - she is now Senior Director for the Roosevelt Cluster and Benson High School.

As always, we look forward to next year!

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Milagro Addition to Complete the Collection!

Milagro’s Grants and Financial Records

The Milagro collection is now complete! This week the OMA received Milagro’s financial and grants documentation, 1986-2005/2007, a total of 6 boxes. These materials give a fantastic insight into the inner workings of the administrative side of running a successful theatre company.

And, that means that Katrina has officially completed her processing project. To get a sense of how much work Katrina did, be sure to read through her blog: Katrina’s Milagro Internship and check out these “after” photos of the archives room at Milagro (this room was originally jam packed with content that is now at the OMA):

Milagro Archives Room

  

Milagro’s Current Records

 

What’s still at Milagro? Scripts and some Artwork

 

And, in the coming year’s there will be more Milagro content to come to the OMA; Katrina created a Records Retention Schedule for the staff to be sure to know what comes to the archives, what stays at the theatre, and what needs to be shredded.

Milagro’s RSS Instructions

 However, just because her internship is complete, Katrina’s dedication to the Performing Arts community is by no means over. In fact, she developed the Northwest Performing Arts Archive:

nwpaarchive website

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OSU History of Students of Color Activism Tour!

CONNECT Week 2014 Tour at the CCCC

As part of CONNECT Week 2014, Professors Janet Nishihara and Kim McAloney led a group of about 15 students on the tour that their Fall 2013 U-Engage created and compiled into the campus tour guidebook: “Untold Stories: Histories of Students of Color at OSU”It was incredible to see all the changes that have occurred on campus in just this past year. For example, the CCCC building is now completed, the BCC and APCC are both under construction – with the APCC in a new location – and the new residence hall has been named after William Tebeau. The OMA and Professors Nishihara and McAloney are definitely planning on an updated and perhaps expanded version of the guidebook for 2015 – so stay tuned for that!

The tour group checking out the new location of the APCC which will be across from the NAL

         

The group at the NAL on the corner of Jefferson and 26th

           

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Update October 8th

As part of this Fall Term 2014 U-Engage class, the students took the tour last year’s class created!

Fall Term 2014 U-Engage Class

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Update October 9th

Remember how we mentioned that the guidebook needed to be updated? Here’s a fantastic reason why…today marked the dedication ceremony for the new residence hall, Tebeau Hall, named after the first known male African American graduate from OSU, William Tebeau. In the guidebook, his “location” is the Engineering Building since that was his major, but in the updated version of the guidebook, it will of course be the residence hall! Here are a couple fun photos of Tebeau Hall and today’s event:

Tebeau Hall

 

The Official Ribbon Cutting

 

Event Attendees, Including Tebeau’s Family

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“Uprooted” Exhibit at the Four Rivers Cultural Center

Four Rivers Cultural Center, Ontario, Oregon

The debut of the traveling exhibit “Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II” is this week at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Or! the exhibit, curated by Morgen Young, showcases a history of the Japanese American farm labor camp near Nyssa, Oregon, through the stories of the people who lived and worked in the camp.

The labor camp was the first of its kind organized during World War II. It became operational in May of 1942 and at its peak it held 350 people. Through the exhibit you learn about the camp, Oregon’s plan for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during the war, and the national need for agricultural laborers, specifically in the sugar beet industry.

For more information about the exhibit, photos, and links to more resources, be sure to view the exhibit website: “Uprooted” Exhibit

Exhibit Information:

Where: Four Rivers Cultural Center
676 SW 5th Avenue
Ontario, OR 97914

When: 09/12/2014 – 12/12/2014
Mon – Fri: 9am – 5pm and Sat – Sun: 10am – 9pm

And, of course, to learn about OSU’s story in relation to the forced removal and relocation of the Japanese Americans, check out the blog post “OSU’s Japanese American Students During WWII”

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OSU Cultural Resource Centers’ Libraries

OSU CRCs Libraries Online Catalog

The OSU Cultural Resource Centers (CRCs) each have fantastic individual libraries with books available for check-out to the OSU community. In order to make these libraries more accessible to potential users, the OMA worked with the CRCs to create a joint online catalog via LibraryThing so that you can browse through the combined collections to see what great resources they have!

First, be sure to check out the OSU CRCs Libraries Profile; here you will find information about library policies and center locations - although the catalog includes all the CRCs books, in order to check out a book, you need to go to the center that owns the book. On the profile page, you can use the tags to search within a specific center’s collection.

OSU CRCs Libraries Profile

Or, if you are ready to browse through the collections and/or search for a specific book, check out the OSU CRCs Libraries Catalog. Use the search box with the words “Search this library” in the top right hand corner.

OSU CRCs Libraries Catalog

And, if you are interested in learning about the process to create these libraries and the joint catalog, be sure to read the article, “Booxter and LibraryThing: Making cultural resource centers library collections visible and accessible” which was published June 2014 in College & Research Libraries News vol.75 no.6, pages 318-335.

To learn more about the CRCs, here are the links to each center:

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The OMA at SAA 2014

This year at the Society of American Archivists (SAA) conference there were several great sessions pertaining to documenting and sharing the stories of multicultural communities, and the OMA presented twice regarding its own projects.

Below are a few highlights from the conference ~

Archives and Archivists of Color Roundtable

The AACR hosted a special presentation featuring a project by Kent State University to document the university’s Black Campus Movement (BCM), 1965-1972, and the history of African American students at Kent State, especially in relation to the May 4, 1970 Kent State Shootings. For more information about the BCM, check out the book The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972 by Ibram H. Rogers.

Performing Arts Roundtable

At the PAR meeting, the OMA shared its experiences working with the Milagro and Obo Addy Legacy Project collections.

Forum: Diversifying the Archival Record

This forum sponsored by SAA’s Diversity Committee featured the co-editors of the new book Through the Archival Looking Glass: A Reader on Diversity and Inclusion edited by Mary Caldera and Kathryn M Neal which includes 10 chapters of amazing projects and ideas to highlight the stories of multicultural communities.

Indigenous Researcher Perspectives on Using Non-Native Archives

In this session two Native American researchers shared their experiences using materials about indigenous communities held by non-native repositories. The first researcher, Zonnie Gorman, recapped her incredible find in the St. Louis National Archives regional office. Her father was a Navajo WWII code talker, one of the original 29, and she is currently working on her master’s thesis on the topic. As she was researching the military files she found the previously unknown “30th” man as part of the original group – George Clinton. Her work then led her to Clinton’s family who were unaware of the story (Navajo Times article). The second researcher, David Lewis, talked about his decades long work to collect information pertaining to Oregon’s tribes; he specifically spoke about the SWORP collection.

Integrating History: A Search and Recovery Effort in Alabama Archives

Four Alabama repositories shared their efforts to uncover hidden collections and solicit new materials pertaining to the black experience in the area. The speakers spoke about their lessons learned with cultural sensitivity, advocacy, and community outreach work which included overcoming community distrust, building relationships and respect with communities, and dealing with still very real community member prejudices.

Native American Archives Roundtable

At the NAAR meeting Dr. Kim Christen spoke about the Sustainable Heritage Network (SHN) which is dedicated to assisting Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums – SHN is a collaborative effort to provide shared services and knowledge. During the meeting the OMA also gave an update regarding a research study with Western Washington University regarding building successful relationships between tribal and non-tribal repositories.

When Communities Perform Their Own Documentation: The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Community / Family Documentation Project

This session featured an alternative format “fishbowl” discussion in which four speakers spoke for four minutes each and then audience members were asked to volunteer to speak for four minutes each as well followed by a Q&A discussion – all this was done in a circle with the speakers in a small, center circle. It was a great way to present and share information and very fitting for a session about community archiving. Numerous projects were discussed and archivists shared their challenges and lessons learned. All spoke about the need to build relationships with community members and helpful strategies included: find a community liaison, organize community focus groups, create tools and resources for communities to use, and collaborate with other institutions to work on large scale projects.

Needless to say it was a wonderful conference and it will be great to apply all the ideas learned and knowledge gained!

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Multicultural Portland Tour

This past week the OMA participated in another tour regarding Portland’s multicultural history and took lots of pictures to share with you! This tour was hosted by the organization Know Your City which has various forms of programming including tours, lectures, publications, and school programs. The Multicultural Portland tour focused mostly on the city’s Asian American history and touched upon the histories African American and Jewish communities as well.

The tour began on a beautiful Friday afternoon on 2nd & Ankeny and for the next two hours we walked several blocks exploring old and new Chinatown, what once was Japantown, and the area that once was considered a predominately African American neighborhood. To get a sense of where things are, go to the Know Your City Multicultural Portland Tour webpage and scroll down to the bottom of the page for a Google Map with the tour’s starting location indicated.

The Chinese Community in Portland

Many Chinese immigrants, mostly men, came to the Pacific Northwest as merchants and laborers in pursuit of economic success. One of the first areas we walked in was the city’s original Chinatown location.

The intersection of SW 2nd and Oak St was once considered the center of Chinatown

We then walked over to 2nd and Washington to the Waldo Block. Our tour guide gave us several insights into the Chinese community’s history. First, he noted that although the area was called Chinatown because it was predominately Chinese in terms of population, it was not completely segregated. Within Chinatown there were white-owned and run businesses alongside the Chinese businesses. Second, he pointed out the architecture of the buildings stating that although the structures are at first glance in a European style, there are design elements, such as balconies, that were included to meet the needs of the Chinese community.

The Waldo Block

Our next stop was the Oregon Pioneer Building, at SW 3rd and Stark.  Within this building is the city’s oldest restaurant, Huber’s, established in 1879. While Frank Huber initially established the business, after he passed away, Jim Louie, a Chinese immigrant and cook, took over management. His family has since retained management and later, ownership of the business.

Huber’s

The tour’s next two stops highlighted the racial tensions within the area and the discrimination against the Chinese community. On one of the buildings is a plaque indicating the 1894 High Water Mark – the water level when the area flooded. The city used the water damage as an opportunity to disproportionately condone more Chinese owned businesses to then force the community to move elsewhere. The city wanted the area since is was prime real estate due to its location in the center of the city.

High Water Mark, 1894

The next stop on 2nd and Ash St. was the New Market Theatre. This building was the host to an anti-Chinese gathering in the late 1890s that culminated in a riot. The white population wanted to force out the Chinese community, however, the Portland newspaper The Oregonian included a series of articles condoning the actions of the group with the reasoning that it made more economic sense for the two populations to co-exist.

The New Market Theatre on 2nd and Ash

Notably, inside the building is a free exhibit featuring the history of the Chinese population in the area. And, the exhibit includes various artifacts from when the building underwent a renovation.

Chinese History Exhibit

Next, we moved on to the current Chinatown and viewed the gate, dedicated in 1986, and we also viewed the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) building which provides the community with a variety of services.

Map of Chinatown

CCBA Building

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The African American Community in Portland

Golden West Hotel, 1906-1931 ~ African American entrepreneur W.D. Allen launched the hotel in 1906 in order to provide a place of residence for African American community members, especially railroad workers and other laborers since other Portland hotels denied them a place to stay. On the side of the building there is a permanent display panel that recounts the history of the hotel and the community it served.

The Golden West Hotel

The Vanport Flood of 1948 ~ Just as the flood of the late 1890s displaced the Chinese population, in 1948 the African American population was displaced due to a massive flood in the city of Vanport. The city was specifically created for the laborers of the WWII shipyards and a large influx of African Americans moved to the area in search of jobs. Although the area was an integrated community and both whites and blacks lost their homes, the African American community struggled more to rebuild their lives due to housing and job discrimination in Portland.

High Water Mark, 1948

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The Japanese American Community in Portland

With the various Chinese Exclusion Acts enacted by the federal government, Japanese immigrants began moving to the United States. They faced similar hardships endured by the Chinese community, however, it was during WWII that the community was completely displaced when all Japanese, even American citizens, were forcibly removed from their homes and moved to camps. They community members lost homes, businesses, and land. To highlight this community and history the tour stopped by the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center which documents Portland’s Japanese history. In the center’s window there is a small model of Portland’s Japantown which no longer exists. Find out more information about Japantown on the Oregon Encyclopedia entry: Japantown, Portland (Nihonmachi). 

Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center

Model of Japantown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Jewish Community in Portland

The tour stopped by a local business on Burnside and 3rd to view a plaque in the ground highlighting the Jewish community.

Portland’s Jewish Community

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 Overall, the tour was a great experience – it’s always great to have the opportunity to see all the places you read about; it really brings history to life!

 

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HST 399 and the Urban League of Portland Collection

This past Spring term, the students of the history course HST 399: The Civil Rights Movement in Modern America, taught by Professor Marisa Chappell, were tasked with a research assignment to use the Urban League of Portland archival collection to highlight the themes of the course through the lens of the Urban League of Portland’s activism.  

The research assignment was to work in pairs to explore a particular topic related to the history of race relations and African American activism in Portland from the 1940s through the 1980s. Each group was tasked to use approximately eight primary source documents from both the Urban League of Portland Papers and the Oregonian newspaper to then write a short essay about the topic.    

The topics selected included: education, housing, jobs, police relations, and poverty. Below are short descriptions of each paper and links the essays, some of which include scans of the documents cited. If you are intrigued by the topics analyzed and the sources used, be sure to come to the archives to conduct your own research using the collection!

Education

Description of two major programs created to fight the oppression towards people of color: the Adolescent Parent Treatment Program and The Whitney Young Learning Center. Both programs focused on assisting youth. The APTP focus was to target high risk juveniles, mostly males between ages of 12-17.  The WYLC was a free, homework assistance, community based after-school program for grades 7-12.

Housing

Edwin Berry, the president of the Portland Urban League from 1945 to 1969, initiated Portland fair housing reform. This essay focuses on Portland Urban League’s series of meetings in 1955 mainly focusing on the issue of equal housing. 

Jobs

Two ULP reports, one from the 1970s and another from the 1990s, along with various Oregonian articles from the 1960s-1980s. The reports reflect the ULP perspective regarding Affirmative Action and the articles mostly include op-ed pieces and the implementation of the program.

Police Relations – Paper 1 and Paper 2

The first paper uses articles from the Oregonian mostly from 1959. The second paper also uses articles from the Oregonian but mostly from the late 1960s-mid 1980s. Both essays analyze the police relations within the Albina community through the lens of the media. 

Poverty

This paper focuses on the Urban League of Portland’s role in the federal government’s War on Poverty program during the mid to late 1960s. The essay uses Board Meeting Minutes and articles from the Oregonian.

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Portland Housing History Tour

“Housing is about access to opportunity” — opportunities such as healthy living, high level schools, parks, etc. This weekend the OMA participated in a tour of Portland pertaining to the city’s history of housing displacement, segregation, and discrimination. The 3 hour tour included a dozen stops, guest presenters who gave firsthand accounts of their experiences, and a lot of incredible information regarding significant events in Portland’s housing history. The tour was sponsored by the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, Race Talks, and the Portland Human Rights Commission.

Tour Map and Locations

Since the Fair Housing Act is about protecting people against discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, and gender, along with families and people with ADA needs, it’s fitting that the first stop on the tour was the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. titled “The Dream” by artist and sculptor Michael F Dente. The sculpture includes MLK Jr. with a child, a worker, and an immigrant. As Dr. King stood for peace, equality, and justice, within the context of the tour, they can be seen as representations of groups affected by housing displacement and discrimination. The statue is located at the Oregon Convention Center and was dedicated in 1998.

MLK Jr. Statue “The Dream”

The next couple stops were the DeNorval Unthank Plaza and the Albina Neighborhood, specifically the story of the Emmanuel Hospital expansion. On the micro level of history is the story of Unthank having to move his family four times before he could live peacefully; he was a victim of housing harassment. On the macro level is the story of an entire community being displaced due to the hospital expansion among other urban renewal projects.

The Albina Neighborhood is a historically black area originally settled in 1887 by German immigrants; it was an area that began to absorb immigrants and consisted of mostly smaller homes. During the late 1800s and early 1900s there were railroad jobs and more people began moving to the area. The Albina area was 2 miles long and 1 mile wide. In the 1930s whites moved out as blacks moved in. Williams Ave was the center of African American community; from the Steel Bridge to Fremont there were businesses, groceries, nightclubs, etc. In the 1950s there were 11,000 people in a small area that was six times as dense as the city as a whole.

There were several Urban Renewal projects of the 1950s-1970s in which low income housing was taken away with expansion: 1950s Memorial Union/Plaza; 1960s I-5 expansion; 1960s and 1970s Emmanuel Hospital expansion – the hospital spent 10 years planning before talking to the community. There are vacant lots in the area because the expansion began but the hospital didn’t get the needed federal funds to complete the project. With all of these projects, more than 1,000 homes were lost; but not just homes: churches, businesses, nightclubs, organizations, etc.  – there was a loss of community for the people who were forced to move. The neighborhood was pushed further North and whites moved to the area; by the 1990s, 85% of African Americans lived in North/North East Portland.

Housing in Portland:

  • In 1919 the Portland Realty Board prohibited members from selling property in white neighborhoods to “Negros” or “Orientals.” A white neighborhood was defined as a 4 mile radius and realtors justified the segregation as maintaining property values.
  • During the 1920s-1940s the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers/Appraisal ranked races regarding the value in housing.
  • Some historic homes had (and have as the language was never removed) covenants stating that housing owners/renters must be Caucasian. There is discriminatory language saying that people of color cannot live in the house (unless they are domestic servants).

The Former Site of the City of Vanport

In the 1940s Vanport (a combination of Vancouver and Portland) was a city of 40,000 people with 15,000-25,000 African Americans who came mostly from the South. It was the largest public housing project in the country and specifically developed by Henry Kaiser and the federal government in order for people to work for the Kaiser shipyards during WWII.

Vanport Area Special Presentation – Ed Washington

Ed Washington’s family immigrated to Portland from Birmingham in the summer of 1944; his father worked in the shipyards. At the time there was not much housing for anyone; people were living in tents, cars, and were sharing apartments. Kaiser made an agreement with the federal government to create housing and the city of Vanport began in the summer of 1941 and was completed in 1942. There were 500 units – each unit had 14 apartments; the area was full of identical houses of green and grey. Vanport was not an all-black city but a large portion of the population lived there. According to the 1940 census there were 2,500 blacks in Oregon and during 1940s the population increased to about 20,000.

Vanport Location

  • Eastern boundary is present day I-5; the PDX racetrack was East Vanport
  • Western boundary was the railroads
  • Northern boundary was Swift Blvd.
  • Southern boundary was Columbia Street

Growing Up as a Kid in Vanport. Washington explained that the majority of blacks lived in Cottonwood (street name) while the whites lived on Victory; the neighborhoods were named by streets. He stated that Vanport was not a slum. There were no broken down houses or rat infested homes. In terms of race relations, he recalled that the schools were not segregated in Vanport. The Portland Housing Authority managed the schools; it was not the federal government or Kaiser that segregated the community, it was the city of Portland that did so. Within the school district nothing was spared when it came to providing a good education. Dr. James Hamilton, the superintendent, refused to segregate the schools even though the Portland Housing Authority wanted to do so. The schools had band uniforms; it one of the first districts to have Junior Highs; and 24 hour day cares. Vanport was also one of the first schools to hire an African American teacher and black deputy sheriff; the theatre was not segregated. The city had a fire dept., post office, and hospital.

The Flood ~ An entire city community displaced

By the Spring of 1948, in mid-May, the Columbia River was really heavy because of a lot of snow that winter. There was discussion of a possible flood and on Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, May 31st, a notice was placed on people’s doors, however, it said to not worry for 2-4 days and so residents remained in their homes. On the notice it said if the dike broke, there would be sirens that would go off to warn people. The dike did indeed brake and the police said that residents had about 40 minutes to leave. Washington remembers conversations between community members that thought the water would not be so bad and that they would return home, however, within 45 minutes, the entire area was flooded. There was a first wave and by the second wave, people knew they would not be able to return.

The Washington Family only packed a few items of clothing, important records, and selected photographs. After the floor there was a church on Rodney and Russell that was one of a few that would accept people of color; the family stayed there for three weeks. In 1948-49 the family lived in a trailer and in 1950 they moved to NE Cook Street to finally resettle.

Post WWII

  • 1/3 to 1/2 of the African American community unemployed; 8% unemployment for whites and 50% for blacks and on government assistance.
  • About 12,000 left while about 11,000 stayed but there was no work; those that remained moved to Albina or another housing district.

Exposition Center Memorial for Japanese Americans Interred during WWII

The Japanese moved to Oregon in late 1800s and early 1900s for railroad jobs; other jobs were in agriculture in rural areas if not in Portland. Sadly, the Japanese endured many acts of harassment. In Hood River whites were threatened by Japanese success; the Alien Land Law meant the exclusion of non-citizens from owning land; and in the 1920s there were various anti-Japanese incidents aimed at immigrants. By 1941 Japanese in Oregon owned farms (bought via their children who were citizens) and were getting resentment from white farmers. On February 19, 1942, Executive Order 9066 declared the removal of Japanese Americans when 2/3 were US citizens by birth. Japanese Americans were relocated to the Portland Expo Center from May 2 – Sept. 10, 1942, in Expo Building C.

Japanese Americans in Portland Special Presentation – Marleen Wallingford

Wallingford’s parents were born in Oregon; her father in Portland and mother in Hood River. She began by explaining that the Memorial Gates to Japanese Americans look like Torii Gates from Japan which were usually meant to be at the entrance to a sacred place like a temple. The chimes represent the tags that people had to wear for the government to keep track of them; there are 3,700 tags to depict the number of people removed from their homes.

Within days of the Executive Order Japanese Americans had to leave their homes – licenses for business were revoked and all Japanese banks were closed – and they were relocated to the Expo Center. Wallingford described the area. It was the livestock area; it was cleaned and covered but it still smelled. The bathrooms were one long hall; no doors so some women used cardboard boxes. There was just one communal sleeping area and no doors so people used blankets to set up some privacy. There were curfews from 8pm-6am, no weapons, no radios allowed, and restricted travel areas. The FBI had lists of “dangerous” people, especially those in leadership roles; some were arrested and moved to camps; most were men that were removed from the community. Most of the people left over were women and children – they were not empowered to protest. Wallingford gave her perspective on the situation saying that it was not in the culture to fight back; it was in the culture to follow orders, a part of the Buddhist philosophy of acceptance. And she reiterated that removal was not just a threat; people had no choice. Soon after the incarceration, recruitment for agricultural work began because there was a shortage of workers in states across the Pacific Northwest, especially for sugar beets workers because the sugar was used for bombs.

Wallingford’s family’s post WWII experience included housing discrimination. There were ads in papers stating that Japanese Americans not welcome in Hood River. Her and her parents moved to Portland but could not find work. Some Jewish families were more willing to hire nonwhites but paid them less. The family tried to buy house in 1959 but they were not welcome by neighbors so they moved to South East Portland.

The last half dozen stops of the tour included:

  • The New Columbia / Columbia Villa neighborhood which includes the Charles Jordan Community Center; Jordan was the first black city commissioner in Portland. Currently there are 22 countries represented and 13 languages spoken in the area.
  • The site of the Chinese Garden Community from the early 1900s which was shut down by the city – OHS OrHi 12176
  • Romani Round Up: during the 1940s the Portland Mayor received federal funds to remove the Gypsy community.
  • Golden West Hotel: a hotel built for African American railroad workers; it was the largest black owned hotel west of the Mississippi.
  • Chinatown Gate: the gate was dedicated in 1986.
  • Site of Seraw Murder, a hate crime in 1988. Special speaker Jan Ferguson explained that in the 1980s there was a wave of immigrants from Ethiopia and at the same time Portland developed a racist skin head movement – East Side White Pride was a hate group. The area near Belmont was a violent area. In November of 1988 an Ethiopian man, Mulugeta Seraw, was coming home from work when he came across a group of skin heads. A fight broke out and Seraw was beaten with a bat. Three men were charged with hate crimes based on the hate crime law. Since 1997 Portland designated a hate crime agent to prevent and investigate hate crimes.

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Current Efforts regarding Fair Housing Issues

  • ½ of fair housing issues are related to disabilities; the types of disabilities have increased in recent years.
  • Post 1990s, in terms of design in construction, buildings are required to meet certain standards for new homes for ADA compliance i.e. doors cannot be too narrow and there can be no barriers to certain areas of the building.

Purpose of Tour

People sometimes don’t choose where to live; discrimination and displacement tell a lot about the social history of a city. As community members we need to be vigilant for others’ civil rights in addition to our own.

For more information about the tour be sure to check out the Fair Housing Council of Oregon tours webpage

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