Friday, June 6, 2014

Seeking Information About Oregon’s African American Historic Places

The Oregon Black Pioneers, in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), has launched a new property survey project entitled Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places. The purpose of the project is to protect and preserve significant sites related to Oregon’s African history from the time period of 1844 to 1984.
Who Are the Oregon Black Pioneers?

Oregon Black Pioneers is the state’s premier organization dedicated to illuminating African Americans’ contributions to Oregon history through research, publications, exhibits, and community outreach. With the help of a dedicated African American Historic Sites Committee, we are honored to work with SHPO to help preserve and protect African American historic places. Our ultimate goal for this property survey is to nominate significant African American historic sites to the National Register of Historic Places.
 Amazing Discoveries

The revelation of relatively unknown and/or hidden African American historic sites and places promises to add yet another dimension to Oregon’s rich history. Pictured to the left is an early settlement era, gothic revival style home located in Corvallis that belonged to Black pioneers Hannah Gorman and Eliza Gorman. Hannah and her six year old daughter, Eliza came across the Oregon Trail in 1844 with the John Thorp family and resided in Corvallis, Oregon. In La Grande there is the little-known church, Boyd Memorial Baptist Church, now known as Amazing Grace Fellowship. Constructed in 1920, Amazing Grace Fellowship represents one of the oldest African American Churches in Oregon.

Visit the Project Website
The data collection phase relies on online data submission and thanks to the hard work of SHPO staff, a project website has been created at The website is designed to provide the user with more information about the project and to allow the general public to submit information online. 
We Need Your Help! If you know of any places like this, please share your information! The information will be added to the collection of the Oregon Black Pioneers and the Oregon Historic Sites Database. Provide as much information as you can, but it is okay to leave blanks if you do not know the particular information requested. Need More Information? If you have any questions about the survey project you may email Kimberly Moreland, Oregon Black Pioneers, Project Manager at or Kuri Gill, Oregon Heritage, Grants and Outreach Coordinator at  For more information about the Oregon Black Pioneers please visit Additional information about the Oregon Heritage can be found at

Monday, March 17, 2014



Oregon Black Pioneers will open its’ third exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society Museum in Portland on February 2, 2015 called: A Community on the Move.   This exhibit engages visitors of all ages and backgrounds with the courage and perseverance of Portland’s black residents from 1940 to the onset of urban renewal in the mid-1950s.  Key messages trace the impact to Portland’s early community with the WWII shipyards, migration of southern black families to Portland, the Vanport flood and the beginning of urban renewal.   

An Exhibit Community Advisory Committee made up of Portland community members, subject matter experts, and members of the Oregon Black Pioneer board started work last fall to do planning for this exhibit and for a variety of public programming events in support of it.   Plans for community dialogues, educational opportunities for youth and public events are being developed for a variety of locations in the Portland area. 

This exhibit will be funded thanks to generous grants, sponsorships and individual donations.   If you are willing to make a donation toward this event, please see our Donation Section on this website and specify the amount you would like to designate to this exhibit. 

We have a number of grant requests pending and have already received grant approvals from The Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities and the Rose E. Tucker Foundation. 

Monday, December 17, 2012


Oregon Black Pioneers and the Oregon Historical Society Presents All Aboard: Railroading and Portland’s Black Community.  The exhibit opening is:

January 15, 2013 thru April 21, 2013.

Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205
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Working together with the Oregon Historical Society and a community advisory committee, the Oregon Black Pioneers presents a new interactive exhibit that will focus on the work and lives of the African American community that grew up around Union Station from 1800s to 1940s. Visitors will learn about the various jobs that were available to blacks working for the railroad, and experience the sight and sounds of community life during this era. Life-size mannequins will display the period clothing and the various uniforms worn by black workers. Learn more about the establishment of black-owned businesses, churches and other social institutions within the context of Oregon’s racial history. The exhibit content will feature a video entitled “Black Families and the Railroad” produced by Portland’s own Michael “Chappie” Grice that highlights the lives of Portland’s railroad workers. In addition, visitors will have a rare opportunity to sit at a newspaper binder and read remnants of historical black newspapers (New Age, Advocate and Portland Times) that were established as early as 1896. Come take a picture with a Pullman Porter or in front of platform backdrop of the Union Pacific’s Portland Rose, once herald as “A Triumph in Train Comfort.”

A community advisory aommittee consisting of former railroad men, the children of former railroad men and local historians has enhanced the exhibit planning through their expertise and personal knowledge of railroad history, as well as generous use of their historical artifacts and family collections. Under the leadership of Gwen Carr, Exhibit Project Director for Oregon Black Pioneers, the committee members are the Honorable Robert Boyer, Michael “Chappie” Grice, Honorable Avel Gordly, Honorable Charlotte Rutherford, William Rutherford, Dr. Darrell Millner and Jacqueline-Peterson-Loomis. Funding for All Aboard was provided by National Railway Historical Society, Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities, and Trust Management Services, LLC.

For more information about All Aboard please contact Gwen Carr, Exhibit Project Manager and/or Kimberly Moreland, Marketing and Communication Coordinator at

Monday, December 12, 2011

Annual Black History Month Gala Celebration

On February 11, 2012, at the Salem Conference Center in Salem, Oregon, we will have our annual gala celebration of African American history with a focus on Oregon. Our program will be Portraits of Courage staged by Will and Company of Los Angeles, California under the direction of Colin Cox. A special feature of this presentation will be profiles from Perseverance A History of African Americans in Oregon's Marion and Polk Counties. Highlights for the evening will include honoring recipients of our awards: Pillars of Leadership and Service, The First, Trailblazer, Organization Giving and our student educational scholarship.  Recipient for each award which will be announced in January.

Please contact us at for additional information or purchase tickets online at Please be sure to provide contact information; i.e., phone or email.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Perseverance: A History of African Americans in Oregon's Marion and Polk Counties

We are excited! The long awaited publication on African Americans in Oregon's Marion and Polk Counties is now available online at our website: at a cost of $25 plus shipping. The book shares the life and profiles of blacks in the Salem and surrounding area. The book is a documentation in word and pictures, particularly of early black settlers and continuing through more recent years.

You may go online to the website to read a brief section from Perseverance.

Friday, December 24, 2010


On February 12, 2011, at the Salem Conference Center in Salem, Oregon, we will have our annual gala celebration of African American history with a focus on Oregon. Our guest speaker will be Mr. Rodney J. Reynolds, Founder, Publisher and CEO of American Legacy Magazine. In celebration we will honor recipients of our awards; Pillars of Leadership and Service, The First, Trailblazer and Organization Giving. Award recipients will be announced in January. Recipients of our student educational scholarships will be presented. Please contact us at for additional information or purchase tickets online at Please be sure to provide contact information; i.e., phone or email.