Story by Phillip Jones
February is National Black History Month in the United States. This Wednesday, the City Council officially proclaimed Black History Month in the city of Portland. The proclamation honors the importance of black leaders through Oregon's history and recognizes the many ways African-Americans have enriched, transformed, and enlivened our community.
Portland is richer for the economic, cultural, and political contributions of African-Americans. One such woman is Avel Gordly, the first African-American woman elected to the Oregon State Senate. Senator Gordly recently co-authored a book with Commissioner Fish's wife, Portland State University Professor Patricia Schecter. The book, "Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader", chronicles Senator Gordly's life - the challenges she faced growing up in Portland in the 1950s and 1960s, her determination to attend college, the activist spirit that took her from Portland to Africa, and her eventual decision to seek a seat in our state legislature.
A few local Black History Month events:
"Hughes' Dream Harlem" Film
Wednesday, 2/9, 11:00 am - Columbia Blvd. Wastewater Treatment Plant, 5001 N Columbia, Mt. Hood Room
Langston Hughes was one of the most prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance and is often referred to as Harlem's poet laureate. This film shows how Hughes successfully fused jazz, blues, and common speech to celebrate the beauty of Black life.
"Portland's Lost Black Neighborhoods: Guild's Lake, Vanport City and Others"
Wednesday, 2/9, 5:30-7:30 pm - Kaiser Town Hall, 3704 N Interstate
Come see a one-time exhibit of historical photos of people and life in once-proud communities devastated by industrial development, urban renewal, and flood waters.
"History, Hope and Harmony: A Black History Month tribute to Portland's jazz heritage with Esperanza Spalding"
Wednesday, 2/23, 4:30-6:00pm - City Hall, 1221 SW 4th
Honoring Sweet Baby James, Bobby Bradford, and others with special guest Esperanza Spalding.
Full list of events