Arts & Ent.

Learn about Oregon’s Black pioneers

An exhibit focusing on Oregon’s history of Black pioneers and their achievements in the state opened Nov. 1 and will remain open through Feb. 1, 2024, at the Salem Public Library.

The exhibit is a part of the Oregon Black Pioneer event, Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years project. It focuses on the local history of how the civil rights movement unfolded here in Oregon during the 1960s and 1970s.

The project is a joint venture between the Black Oregon Pioneers group and the Salem Public Library Foundation. The group want to invite the community for the community to learn about the racial history of our state and share space for diverse voices.

The presentation investigates how racist attitudes, exclusionary public policy and the destruction of Black neighborhoods molded Oregon, but more so, the exhibit spotlights how the Black community overcame these challenges.

Many communities in Oregon have been affected by these challenges such as the Black community in Vanport which lost their homes due to a lack of warning about an incoming flood; the Albina neighborhood in Portland that was gutted to create a highway entrance into downtown as well as the creation of redlining—a process where Black communities were viewed as undesirable and outline in red on city zoning maps—and how that still affects Black Oregonians today.

As the only historical society in Oregon dedicated to preserving the historical experiences of Black Oregonians, the Salem-based group has traveled around the state putting on these exhibits for more than 30 years.