Loretta Milton and OSU’s 1969 BSU Walkout

Jeremy Davis and Loretta Milton

On February 19th as part of the OSU Lonnie B Harris Black Cultural Center’s Black History Month celebrations, the BCC hosted an incredible event that included Loretta Milton, along with the artist Jeremy Davis. Davis painted a magnificent mural entitled “Predicting a Movement” for the BCC’s gathering hall featuring the OSU Black Student Union Walkout of 1969 – a protest sparked in support of OSU student athlete Fred Milton, Loretta Milton’s husband. After the event, Loretta along with her daughter and grandson, shared a family oral history interview with the OMA.

Fred Milton Family Oral History Interview

Date: February 19, 2016
Location: Oregon State University Lonnie B Harris Black Cultural Center
Loretta Milton, Zalika Gardner, and Isaiah Adams 
Dwaine Plaza

Interview Audio and Transcript

Milton Family Bios

Loretta Milton grew up in Roseburg, Oregon, and attended OSU in the late 1960s. She met her husband, Fred Milton, at OSU. They married in 1969 and moved to Utah where she worked as a teacher’s aide at the Edith Bowen Lab School while Fred completed his degree at Utah State University. For a short time, while Fred Milton played for the Montreal Alouettes, a Canadian football team, Loretta worked as a waitress. Loretta and Fred moved to Portland, Oregon, in the early 1970s, had several children, and were married until his death in 2011. Zalika Gardner, born 1973 in Portland, Oregon, is daughter to Fred and Loretta Milton. Isaiah Adams is Zalika Gardner’s son and Fred and Loretta Milton’s grandson.

Interview Summary

The Fred Milton family interview begins with Loretta Milton, Fred Milton’s widow, sharing her experiences while attending Oregon State University during the 1969 Black Student Union (BSU) Walkout, her relationship with Fred Milton, including their struggles as an interracial marriage, and their lives in Utah, Montreal, Canada, and eventually Portland, Oregon. Loretta describes Fred’s dissatisfaction with the Canadian football team and his subsequent jobs in Portland as a community liaison for the police, his employment at IBM, and his work for the city government. Zalika Gardner, Loretta and Fred’s first child, then shares some recollections of her father including: his wisdom, sensitivity, and sense of humor; his love to share stories; his talent as an athlete; his very humble personality; and his values. Gardner then describes her grandfather, a sharecropper who worked in Arkansas and then moved with his family to the West and worked on the railroad; his personality and influence on Fred’s life. The conversation then returns to Loretta who describes in more detail the circumstances and events of the BSU Walkout at OSU in 1969, the students who led the Walkout, and the campus reaction. Isaiah Adams, Loretta and Fred’s grandson and Zalika Gardner’s son, shares his perspective on his relationship with his grandfather, his admiration for his grandparents, and the values that he learned from Milton. The interview turns back to Loretta who describes some of the personal aspects of her marriage with Fred including his talent for letter writing, the evolution of their relationship with her parents, and his integrity. Loretta then shares her knowledge regarding the relationship between Fred Milton and football coach Dee Andros including their time while Fred attended OSU and their reconciliation during Fred’s candidacy for Portland County Commissioner. Both Loretta and Zalika describe Fred’s intellect and love of learning and the environment in addition to his athletic abilities, and Isaiah shares how those characteristics within his grandfather affected him. The family recollects on Milton’s many talents as an athlete and his passion for coaching. They conclude the interview by reflecting upon the positive impact that Milton had on the OSU campus and the significance of his story and legacy.

For more information about the 1969 Black Student Union Walkout, check out the 1969 BSU Walkout Flickr Set and, here are two links for the OSU Pauling Blog that also discuss the Walkout: The 1969 Black Student Union Walkout and A Lecture Interrupted and a Campus Torn Apart

“Predicting a Movement” by artist Jeremy Davis

And, to see the BCC event, click here for the video recording!

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