Black His-tory speaks on the Oregon City campus

 

By Eva King

Arts and Culture Editor

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the “Truths and Transitions: Living His Story, As Experienced By Black Men” panel was hosted in Roger Rook Hall. The panel spoke about the history of black people in Clackamas County.

The panel consisted of James Graham, the Economic Development Manager for Oregon City, Taylor Stewart, executive director of the Oregon Remembrance Project, and Aaron Henry, Veterans Rehousing Case Manager for Clackamas County. 

Some members of the panel also work here at Clackamas Community College. Jordan Gulley is a CCC Wildland Fire Science Instructor, and Kelly Montgomery is the CCC Director of Custodial, Mailroom and Duplication Services. Guiding the panel through conversation points and asking questions was Tory Blackwell, a CCC biology instructor. 

According to panelist Stewart, the black population in Oregon is only about 2%. At the Oregon Remembrance Project, they focus on reconciling racial injustice in Oregon. Stewart recounted a project they did in Coos Bay to memorialize Alonzo Tucker, a victim of lynching in 1902.

“When I tell people about my work, people most of the time are like, ‘So, do you get any kind of pushback in these communities?’” said Stewart. “I can guarantee you that six years ago the reaction from Coos Bay was not, ‘Yes, kid from Portland, we would love to put up a historical marker about one of the worst things that ever happened here. Why didn’t we think of that sooner?’”

Over the course of three years, the ORP worked with Coos Bay, which included putting up a historical marker in Tucker’s name and a soil-collection ceremony. “My hope is that we can do things like that here in the Clackamas County area, that we can create spaces and opportunities like this for people in the community to feel like their voices are heard.” 

“I’ve been working in the social service field for about 25-plus years. And being a black man working in the social service field, it’s rough,” Henry stated when asked about roadblocks he’s experienced during his work as a rehousing case manager.

A specific struggle he mentioned was the fact that he’s faced being called racial slurs here in Clackamas County. “That was tough to swallow, because again, I’m there trying to help this person, provide this person with services. So, looking at everything in a whole, it shouldn’t be that way. No matter what color our skin is, where we come from, I’m there to provide a service.”

“These men’s stories are also reminders that black history happens every minute, every hour, every day, all year long,” Blackwell said during his closing statement of the panel. “These men are supportive. These men are smart. These men are all of these things, and they have to deal with the stereotypes, misconceptions. And sometimes it’s plain-old, regular run-of-the-mill racism. And yet every day they wake up and do it all again.”

Watch the recording of the event on YouTube. CCC has a committee dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion, which you can find more information about HERE.

Eva King

Eva King is an editor and writer for The Clackamas Print. In her free time, she plays video games and enjoys theater.

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