Shades of Color at OAC 1916-1921: The Untold Story of Palmer Patton

“Palmer Patton recognized as earliest identified African American graduate, faculty member at Oregon State” Life at OSU February 20, 2020

The unveiling of Palmer Patton’s unique life story took place Feb. 24th at the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center. Larry Landis (Director of OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center) and Dwaine Plaza (Professor of Sociology) presented together to unveil the story of Palmer Patton, who attended Oregon Agricultural College from 1916-1920 as an African American male who “passed” throughout his student life as a white male. Patton ultimately graduated from OAC with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the School of Agriculture and served as a faculty member in agriculture during the 1920-1921 academic year.

Event Recording and Full Transcription: Shades of Color at OAC 1916-1921: The Untold Story of Palmer Patton

Larry Landis’ presentation is available via OSU’s ScholarsArchive

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Insight into a Company’s Stance on LGBTQ+ Issues in the 1990s: an addition to the Thomas Kraemer Papers

In 2018, OSQA acquired the Thomas Kraemer Papers, a collection that included Kraemer’s blog, blog reference materials, and research files; his collection of comics, magazines, and films; and some biographical materials. Kraemer was an OSU alum who helped found the Gay Peoples Alliance, the first officially recognized gay student group at OSU, and his papers reflect his decades-long research on LGBTQ+ issues.

Recently, OSQA received an addition to the papers: a set of documents pertaining to Hewlett-Packard’s LGBTQ+ related activities, policies, and trainings during the 1990s.

Kraemer worked for Hewlett-Packard (HP) for over three decades. During the 1990s, he collected various materials pertaining to the company’s LGBTQ+ activities, policies, trainings, group meetings, and inter-office correspondence. This set of materials predominantly consists of email correspondence, but also includes information pertaining to HP’s Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Employee Network (GLEN), and copies of HP’s publication Measure Magazine.   

Below is detailed information on what you’ll find in the materials:

Correspondence, 1993

The email correspondence contains several online threads where HP employees engage in debate regarding topics of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion at HP and in society more broadly. Queer employees share their experiences with anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and violence at HP, and the hostility they experience from their fellow employees. The threads contain queerphobic, misogynist, abelist and racist language, among other kinds of harmful language. These debates at HP were occurring in a context of anti-gay legislature and laws being introduced across the United States in states such as Colorado and Oregon. Topics which are addressed in these threads include domestic partner benefits, HP’s stance on anti-gay legal initiatives, healthcare, gay marriage and discrimination.

Domestic Partner Benefits, 1995-1996

Materials include email correspondence regarding affirmative action and domestic partner benefits at HP and a statement by HP sharing the company’s stance on affirmative action. Also included are internal GLEN communications such as email correspondence regarding HP’s decision to not extend domestic partner benefits, a letter writing campaign by GLEN members, and meeting minutes for GLEN meetings concerning the organizations strategies for responding to this decision. Finally, included is a statement by HP regarding its eventual decision to offer domestic partner benefits.

GLEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Employee Network), 1995-1997

The GLEN materials consist of email correspondence, meeting minutes, diversity training and workshop materials, photographs, promotional and educational materials, and materials sharing community resources. The documents cover topics such as Kramer’s experiences with seizures, LGBTQ+ issues and history in media, the Harvey Milk Annual Dinner, and a GLEN Leadership Workshop held in a Vancouver branch of HP. The meeting minutes are concerned with things such as organizational structure, group members and responsibilities, planning, event promotions, and calendars. Of note are correspondences between and GLEN and a community group known as the Pathfinders of Linn/Benton County, a program of Valley Aids Information Network, Inc. (VAIN). The Pathfinders describe themselves as a support group for the gay/lesbian/bi-sexual community in Corvallis. These correspondences include an invitation to ‘Gay Pride 1997’ and newsletters created by the Pathfinders and VAIN. The photographs depict GLEN members marching together at a pride celebration.

Measure Magazine, 1995-1996

There are three issues of HP’s publication Measure Magazine. The September-October 1995 issue contains a piece which speaks about the presence and work of employee networks at HP, namely the Black Employees Forum, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Network and the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Network. The November-December 1995 issue deals with the topic of violence and harassment in the workplace, and includes letters from employees expressing their dissatisfaction or support for the earlier issue’s focus on diversity. The January-February 1996 issue similarly contains employee reflections on harassment, violence and diversity.

“My Gender Diversity Training Experience” and Related Correspondence, 1994

“My Gender Diversity Training Experience” is an email internally shared by an HP employee in which he reflects on his experience participating in a gender diversity training. This reflection is accompanied by a massive email chain in which other employees share their own thoughts, discussing the importance of gender diversity training and sexism at the workplace.

Related Materials, 1992-1996

The related materials are not specific to HP. Included is an email correspondence describing a group in Colorado known as GROUND ZERO, described as a grassroots organization working to overturn the anti-gay Amendment 2 in Colorado and fighting to secure and maintain basic civil rights for LGBTQ+ citizens. Also contained is a document titled “Gay & Lesbian Issues and Culture on National Public Television.”

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Land Acknowledgements

Late last year, the Oregon State University student government, the Associated Students of OSU, passed a bill to acknowledge the indigenous land that the university resides upon.

The land acknowledgment states:

Let it be acknowledged that Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon is located within the traditional homelands of the Mary’s River or Ampinefu Band of Kalapuya. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855 (Kalapuya etc. Treaty), Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to reservations in Western Oregon. Today, living descendants of these people are a part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (https://www.grandronde.org) and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians (https://ctsi.nsn.us).

In order to provide the OSU community with introductory information about land acknowledgments, the OSU Library created a website that consists of general information regarding acknowledgments, tribal communities in Oregon, including OSU resources, and the land acknowledgment statement by the Associated Students of OSU.

Informational Website: Land Acknowledgments

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OSU OID Podcast Episode featuring the OMA

The OSU Office of Institutional Diversity’s The Got Work To Do Podcast features members of the OSU community whose work in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice corresponds with the themes of the We Have Work to Do campaign.

For episode 3, OMA and OSQA curator Natalia Fernández and Raven Waldron, PhD Pharmacy candidate, talk about activism and coalition building with OID Assistant Director of Outreach, Brandi Douglas.

OID Podcast: Episode 3

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Indigenous Trans and Two-Spirit Stories of Resilience

November 20, 2019 is a day of great significance. The day takes places within Native Heritage Month, Trans Awareness Week, Trans Day of Remembrance, and the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz. The event “Indigenous Trans and Two Spirit Stories of Resilience” featured six speakers who shared their stories, predominantly in the form of poetry, and read the works of other Two-Spirit poets, to share their experiences as two spirit peoples.

The event recording and index is available online

Event Information:

  • Event: Indigenous Trans and Two-Spirit Stories of Resilience
  • Summary: As part of Native Heritage Month as well as Trans Awareness Week, and in partnership with the Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Queer Studies programs, the Native American Longhouse (NAL) Eena Haws hosted the event Indigenous Trans and Two-Spirit Stories of Resilience. Leadership Liaison Kobe Natachu Taylor shared that the motivation behind the event was to create a space which centered queer, trans and Two-Spirit Indigenous people, and celebrated the resilience of Indigenous communities. It was also acknowledged that the event was occurring on Trans Day of Remembrance, the 50th anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz and the 3rd anniversary of protest actions on Backwater Bridge during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Two-Spirit, queer and trans Indigenous people were invited to share their own stories, or to read the work of Two-Spirit, queer and trans Indigenous writers. The authors whose writing and poetry were shared include Janice Gould, Arielle Twist, Doe O’Brien, Malea Powell, Qwo-Li Driskill, Beth Brant and the collective Queer Indigenous Gathering.
  • Speakers included Roman Cohen, Tiramisu Hall, Raven Waldron, Luhui Whitebear, Qwo-Li Driskill, and Kobe Natachu Taylor
  • Date: November 20, 2019
  • Location: OSU Native American Longhouse Eena Haws
  • Length: 00:50:20

Speaker Bios:

  • Kobe Natachu Taylor is an indigenous, two-spirit, queer student majoring in nutrition and a minor in queer studies at Oregon State University. Natachu Taylor hopes to take what he has learned at OSU back to their home community after graduation. As an OSU student, Natachu Taylor engages in social justice activism with the QTIPOC support network in SOL.
  • Roman Cohen was born and raised in Klamath County, OR and is a third-year undergrad double majoring in Marketing and Business Administration with an option in International Business and on a Pre-Law track. Cohen worked at the Native American Longhouse Eena Haws during the 2018-2019 academic year, and the next year worked work at ASOSU as the Director of PR & Marketing. The poems Cohen rehearsed came from personal experience and the way they have been shaped by Cohen’s communities.
  • Raven Waldron was born in 1995 and grew up in Silver Lake, Oregon with her two younger brothers, Wyatt and Levi. In 2018, she graduated from Oregon State University with an Honors Bachelors of Science in BioResource Research with an option in Toxicology and minors in Social Justice and Chemistry.  She has always been very involved in advocacy work at OSU and is proud to be a queer Navajo woman and activist. At the time of this recording, Raven is pursuing a doctorate of pharmacy here at OSU, and hopes to work in indigenous healthcare in the future. 
  • Luhui Whitebear is a member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation and multiple-degree OSU alum (ES, ANTH, WGSS, QS). Her hometown is Coastal Chumash territory in what is now called Santa Barbara, CA although she has called Oregon home for many years. Luhui is a mother, poet, and activist that is passionate about disrupting systems of oppression.
  • Tiramisu Hall is a mixed-race Two-Spirit artist of Tsalagi, Sicilian, and Irish ascent. She is a parent of three and second-year graduate student in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Master’s program, and Queer Studies minor. Her art focuses on storytelling through a number of mediums, including: writing, inked line-art, woodcarving, painting, and (rarely) poetry.
  • Qwo-Li Driskill is a Cherokee poet, scholar, and activist raised in rural Colorado. Driskill earned a BA from the University of Northern Colorado, an MA from Antioch University Seattle, and a PhD from Michigan State University. Driskill has taught at Antioch University Seattle, Texas A&M University, and Oregon State University, and currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Oregon State University.

Poet Bios:

  • Beth E. Brant, Degonwadonti, or Kaieneke’hak was a Mohawk writer, essayist, and poet of the Bay of Quinte Mohawk from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Reserve in Ontario, Canada. She is the author of Mohawk Trail (1985), Food and Spirits (1991) and Writing as Witness (1994). She edited the anthology A Gathering of Spirit: A Collection by North American Indian Women (1988) and I’ll Sing ’til the Day I Die: Conversations with Tyendinaga Elders (1995). Her work has been included in the anthologies Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology (1988), Best Lesbian Erotica 1997, Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals (1998), and Native Poetry in Canada: A Contemporary Anthology (2001). (Wikipedia & Poetry Foundation)
  • Doe O’Brien: Two Spirit Wife and mother. Writer of short stories, some poetry and a novel that needs to be edited. HIV activist and Researcher. PhD Education Candidate. (@Wrterdoe, Twitter)
  • Janice Gould (1949—2019) was a Koyangk’auwi Maidu writer and scholar. She was the author of Beneath My Heart, Earthquake Weather and co-editor with Dean Rader of Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry. Her book Doubters and Dreamers (2011) was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award and the Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Gould’s poetic efforts were recognized by the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice in 1992. (Wikipedia)
  • Malea Powell is a Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University as well as a faculty member in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. She is the incoming editor of College Composition & Communication, lead researcher for the Digital Publishing Lab at MSU, director of the Cultural Rhetorics Consortium, founding editor of constellations: a journal of cultural rhetorics, past chair of the CCCC, and editor emerita of SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures. A widely published scholar and poet, her current book project, This Is A Story, examines the continuum of indigenous rhetorical production in North America, from beadwork to alphabetic writing. Powell is a mixed-blood of Indiana Miami, Eastern Shawnee, and Euroamerican ancestry. In her spare time, she hangs out with eccentric Native women artists, poets, and aunties, does beadwork, and writes romance novels. (Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, MSU)
  • Arielle Twist is a Nehiyaw, Two-Spirit, Trans Woman that creating to reclaim and harness ancestral magic and memories. Originally from George Gordon First Nation, Saskatchewan. She is now based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is an author and multidisciplinary artist. Within her short career, she has attended a residency at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, has work published with Them, Canadian ArtThe Fiddlehead, PRISM InternationalThis Magazine, and CBC Art and has been Nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Shortlisted in The National Magazine Awards, both in 2019. ‘Disintegrate/Dissociate’ is her first collection of poetry. (arielletwist.com)
  • Queer Indigenous Gathering is a celebration of queer indigeneity and community, annually hosted by the Queer Indigenous Studies class at Southern Oregon University. They bring several speakers who present on elements of sexuality and gender from Native perspectives. (A Queer Indigenous Gathering Facebook event page)
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Glitter in the Archives! Year 4

Thank you to everyone who came out for our 4th annual Glitter in the Archives event! This year’s event saw the continuation of our collaboration with the OSU Craft Center and the OSU Pride Center in providing a mix of copied archival materials and art supplies for visitors to use to create art pieces inspired by their unique experiences. The guiding question for this year’s Glitter in the Archives was ‘As our communities continue to face violence and trauma, what does building a healing community look like for you?’ It was exciting to see how participants, about two dozen, responded to this theme through their creative work. Our hope is we created a space for participants to imagine queer futures and possibilities through their engagement with historical material from the Oregon State Queer Archives. We look forward to sharing the beautiful pieces created at the event with you in our upcoming zine!

Check out photos from this year’s Glitter in the Archives below!

The Reading Room Awaiting the Event to Begin

Glitter-ers!

Buttons

Collages for the Zine

Beautiful Collage Creations

Crafting “After” Photos

Donations ready to join OSQA!

Until next year 😀

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Noche de Alma Latinoamericana Concert

The OMA represented all of the OSU Libraries at the event “Noche de Alma Latinoamericana Concert.” The event was hosted by Corvallis-OSU Piano International and other community partners. It was an all-Spanish language music and cultural event for the entire family. The evening offered a piano concert by William Villaverde and Fabiana Claure, youth music performances, folklore dancing, and art activities for everyone! 

Event Schedule:

  • 2:00 – 5:00pm: Community Resources & Activities Fair! (Gallery)
  • 2:00 – 2:30 pm: Dancing Workshop. Open to all ages! (Gallery)
  • 2:30 – 3:15 pm: Local talented young musicians concert (Stage)
  • 3:15 – 3:45 pm: Dancers 4H and Alma Latina (Stage)
  • 4:00 – 5:00 pm: Concert Piano Duo William Villaverde and Fabiana Claure (Stage)
  • 5:00 – 5:30 pm: Pan dulce y champurrado (Mexican sweet bread and traditional mexican hot chocolate-like drink) (Gallery)

About the Pianist and Concert: Husband and wife Latin American pianists William Villaverde and Fabiana Claure will be presenting a musical program entitled “A Piano Journey Through Latin America”. Works include Bolivian Cuecas, Brazilian tangos, Cuban classical and jazz-inspired music, an original Latin-jazz composition, and the Bay Area debut of a 4-hands piano arrangement of Piazzolla’s Tango Suite. Having been together for 20 years as a couple and on stage, this dynamic duo will engage audiences through piano music and story-telling, taking them through an exciting journey of diverse cultural influences, historical context, and musical reflection.

The OSU Libraries Table:

The event attendees were predominantly community members so we shared information about our resources being open for use by the general public and how to get an OSULP Library Card. We had a spinner wheel with questions about the library for us to answer, candy, and free library goodies. Over 65 people, including lots of families, stopped by our table to learn all about what OSUL has to offer!

This event occurred due to the support of various organizations including:

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LGBTQ+ History in OSU’s The Barometer

The Daily Barometer ~ November 13, 2000

As we celebrate Queer History Month, we invite you to join us in remembering and exploring histories of queerness at OSU, in Corvallis, and throughout all of Oregon. Here at the OSU Queer Archives, we have been busy expanding our ‘LGBTQ+ Histories In OSU’s The Barometer’ collection to include articles published in The Barometer during the 2000s. Below is a brief reflection on a few chosen pieces of history that occurred during this time.

As the 2000s began, Oregon witnessed a continuation of the Oregon Citizens Alliance’s (OCA) efforts to pass queerphobic and transphobic ballot measures. The OCA sponsored Ballot Measure 9 aimed to prohibit all public educational institutions from ‘encouraging or sanctioning homosexuality’. The Measure would be successfully defeated as a result of a coordinated statewide campaign which included local activism by members of groups like No on 9 Mid Valley, and students from Linn Benton Community College and Corvallis High School. In a timely piece published in The Daily Barometer, Dr Larry Roper reflected on the emotional harm inflicted on community members as a result of the campaign surrounding the ballot measure, and asking ‘How do we restore dignity that has been stripped? How do we reconstruct the humanity that has been assaulted?’ These questions remain pertinent today as we continue to observe high rates of violence targeting trans and gender non-conforming people of color, as LGBTQ+ peoples’ federal legal rights to employment are under threat in the Supreme Court and as queer and trans students (especially those belonging to communities of color) face significant barriers in accessing the education they deserve at our institutions of higher learning. As we celebrate the resilience of those who struggled before us and those who continue to struggle this Queer History Month, perhaps we must also consider how we can build connections between our communities that sustain us and propel us toward healing and justice.

Amid a climate of hostility towards LGBTQ+ people on campus and in the community, this period also saw the emergence of demands for a Queer Resource Center by a coalition of activists representing organizations such as Rainbow Continuum, the Women’s Center, ASOSU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Task Force and Circle of Friends. Despite vocal opposition by the College Republicans and then Vice President of the ASOSU, this coalition would be successful in their fight to establish a resource center housed in the Women’s Center. In the year 2004, the center would be renamed the ‘Pride Center’ and would move to its own building located at 1553 SW ‘A’ Avenue where it continues to provide support for queer and trans folks today.

Below are PDFs of the articles, organized by year, with a table of contents for each set of articles. If you desire to see a physical copy, the newspaper is available in printed and bound copies, as well as on microfilm.

~ Aneeq Ahmed, OSQA Student Worker 2019-2020

LGBTQ+ History, 2000

LGBTQ+ History, 2001

LGBTQ+ History, 2002

LGBTQ+ History, 2003

LGBTQ+ History, 2004

LGBTQ+ History, 2005

LGBTQ+ History, 2006

LGBTQ+ History, 2007

LGBTQ+ History, 2008

LGBTQ+ History, 2009

LGBTQ+ History, 2010

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OMA Exhibit Featured in Alexandria

Fresh of the digital press! The article “Partners in showcasing history: Activating the land-grant engagement mission through collaborative exhibits” co-authored by Anne Bahde, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, and Natalia Fernández is published in the journal Alexandria: The Journal of National and International Library and Information Issues. Alexandria focuses on national and international library and information (LIS) issues. It is concerned with LIS related concepts, policy and practice within all national collection institutions. The “Partners in Showcasing History” article is part of a set of articles on exhibition within special collections and archives.

Article Abstract: The land-grant university in the United States holds a special role in higher education, enacting the ideals of public education, scientific research and direct engagement with the citizens of the state. In this article, three curators from a land-grant university discuss how their exhibit curation work fulfills these ideals through three case studies on exhibit collaborations. By examining lessons learned from their collaborations with students and faculty, campus organizations and community groups, the authors offer suggestions for navigating exhibit partnerships and planning for future collaborations.

The third case study in the article “Case study 3: Partnership with community organizations” features the OMA’s collaboration with two performing arts organizations, Milagro Theatre and the Obo Addy Legacy Project, to curate the 2014 exhibit “Applause!”

Bahde, A., Edmunson-Morton, T., & Fernández, N. (2019). Partners in showcasing history: Activating the land-grant engagement mission through collaborative exhibits. Alexandria. https://doi.org/10.1177/0955749019876372

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The Urban League of Portland’s 2019 Equal Opportunity Day

The Urban League of Portland hosted its annual Equal Opportunity Day Dinner on September 17, 2019. The theme for the evening was Celebrating Our Legacy: Honoring the Past and Preparing for the Future to commemorate the beginning of organization’s 75th year of service to African Americans and others in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Each year, the OMA is delighted to attend to feature materials from the Urban League of Portland archival collection so dinner attendees can see highlights from decades past of how the organization has supported communities — support and empowerment provided through advocacy and civic engagement as well as youth, senior, health, and employment services.

Check out the photos of the display!

In addition, this year the OMA created a small display inspired by the evening’s theme celebrating legacy — a display of recent past presidents and well as “first” presidents.

A Legacy of Leadership: Urban League of Portland Presidents

Nkenge Harmon Johnson, 2015 – present day

Raised in Northeast Portland and Salem, a product of the famed Catlin Gabel School and Harriett Tubman Middle School, Harmon Johnson received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Florida A & M University, and a Master of Business Administration from Trinity University in Washington, DC.  She earned her Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law.  Harmon Johnson is a member of the Oregon State Bar and the District of Columbia Bar. Harmon Johnson served under former Oregon Governor John A. Kitzhaber, MD, as Communications Director from January to July 2014.  She then returned to private life and her small business. Her husband, attorney Erious Johnson, is the Director of Civil Rights with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s office. In 2015, Nkenge Harmon Johnson became the fourth woman CEO to lead the Urban League of Portland.

Harmon Johnson’s Call to Action!

Past Presidents

Michael Alexander, 2012 – 2015     

During his presidency, Alexander positioned the organization on solid financial, programmatic and management footing. Prior to the Urban League, he served in executive roles at Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Magellan Behavioral Health, Human Affairs International and Aetna, including four years as vice president and executive director of the Aetna Foundation. Alexander received his bachelor’s degree from Lewis University in Illinois and graduate degree from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in Pennsylvania.

Marcus C. Mundy, 2007 – 2011 (interim during 2006)

Mundy is a Los Angeles native who moved to Portland in 2000 when his late wife took a job at Nike. He worked in risk management for the accounting firm KPMG and later became a vice president and regional compliance officer for Kaiser Permanente. He is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Oregon’s executive MBA program. Shortly after arriving in Portland, Mundy joined the Urban League board. Mundy took over as president and CEO in 2006. Mundy resigned from his position in 2011.

Vanessa R. Gaston, 2003 – 2006      

As president of the Urban League, Gaston focused the league’s activities within a seven-year strategic plan that established and tracked performance outcomes for programs; hired a professional staff to deliver quality services to the community; and served as an advocate on educational issues for youth, with particular attention to eliminating the academic achievement gap. Prior to her work with the Urban League, she served as associate superintendent at Washington Soldiers Home & Colony in Orting, Wash. After departing form the Urban League, she accepted the position of assistant director of social services for Clark County, Nevada.

Margaret L. Carter, 1999 – 2002    

Margaret Carter is the first African American woman to hold elected office in the Oregon legislature. Carter was a Democratic member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, in the Oregon House of Representatives, from 1985 to 1999 and then in the Oregon State Senate from 2001 to 2009. In 2009, she left the Senate to work as Deputy Director of the state’s Department of Human Services, continuing with the department until her retirement in 2014. Raised in Louisiana, Carter moved to Oregon in 1967. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from Portland State University in 1972 and a master’s in counseling from Oregon State University’s Portland-based program.

Celebrating Firsts

Edwin C. “Bill” Berry, First President, 1945 – 1955

Edwin Berry was born and raised in Ohio. In May of 1945, Berry moved to Portland and joined the Urban League of Portland. He lobbied the Oregon legislature to adopt a Fair Employment Practices law and in 1949, the legislature approved the measure, and Oregon became one of a handful of states in the nation to have a law banning employment discrimination. He also worked on the campaign for the adoption of a statewide Public Accommodations law. In 1956, the Chicago Urban League offered Berry the position of executive director, which he accepted.

Freddye Petett, First Woman President, 1979 – 1984

Through her early career in the Pacific Northwest, Petett worked in many community-based organizations as well as in state and local government. She was Portland mayor Neil Goldschmidt’s administrative assistant and Board Chair for the Housing Authority of Portland. In 1979, Petett became the first woman to lead the Urban League of Portland. Through her leadership, the organization’s headquarters moved out of downtown and into Northeast Portland. Petett left her position with the Urban League in 1984 and became Administrator of the Adult and Family Services Agency in 1987.

Until 2020 and the Urban League of Portland’s official 75th anniversary!

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