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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OMA at the 2019 LDRS Conference

This week the OMA attended the first ever Library Diversity and Residency Studies (LDRS) Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina. The conference focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in libraries, including but not restricted to Library Diversity Residency programs. The conference was hosted by UNC Greensboro in collaboration with the ACRL Diversity Alliance and the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL). The LDRS brought together individuals from academic and public libraries, LIS programs, and other interested groups.

Natalia Fernández, Curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives & OSU Queer Archives, as well as the Supervisor of the OSULP Diversity Scholars Program (DSP), gave a presentation on the DSP as part of the panel “Best Practices in Establishing Library Diversity Residency Programs” – below are her presentation slides and notes…

My name is Natalia Fernández and I am the supervisor of the Oregon State University Libraries’ Diversity Scholars Program. 

To give you an overview of what I plan to share with you -– first, I will give some local context for our program by sharing information about Oregon, Oregon State University, the OSU Libraries, and about me. Then, the bulk of my presentation will consist of information about the development and implementation of the DSP, along with some of our challenges faced and lessons learned, as well as our plans for the future.

According to Oregon’s 2018 population estimate, 26% of the people of living in the state identify as people of color. At OSU, in the 2018-2019 academic year, students of color accounted for just over 25% of about 31,000 students. The OSU Libraries main campus in Corvallis, with 2 branch libraries on the coast and in Central Oregon, employs over 70 Faculty/Staff, along with dozens of student employees. Both the state of Oregon and Oregon State University have a dark history in its treatment of people of color as well as LGBTQIA communities.

My primary job as the curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, a position which I have been in since late 2010, is to collaborate with LGBTQIA and communities of color to empower them to preserve, share, and celebrate their stories in an effort to both document that dark history and showcase the perseverance and accomplishments of these communities in their journey toward social justice. My work includes collection development, instruction, exhibit curation, reference, and other typical duties of an archivist. Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, I am the supervisor of the Diversity Scholars Program and the chair of the DSP Committee. 

Within the state of Oregon there is no university with a masters in library science program. Over the years, our library has employed graduate students obtaining their MLIS degrees, either from hybrid or online-only programs, through paid positions as well as for-credit internships and practicums. However, prior to the DSP, our library had never proactively engaged in the  recruitment and employment of MLIS students of color.

Our program aims to actively create a more diverse and inclusive Library Sciences field by providing extensive support and mentorship for students of color who are pursuing their MLIS degree online. The DSP provides a paid, hands-on experience within the profession to broaden the students’ opportunities after completion of their graduate degree. Established in 2015 and implemented in 2018, the program provides the scholars with experiences in the areas of their choosing, along with opportunities for professional development, scholarship, and service within an academic library setting.

Research ~ In the spring of 2015 our University Librarian charged a team of three librarians with investigating the options that the library had to create a diversity resident librarian position. The library sought to create such a position to promote diversity within our profession, reflect the changing demographics among our students, and to increase opportunities for diverse candidates to explore academic librarianship. The team examined what other academic research libraries have done, spoke with diversity resident scholars, and reviewed the relevant literature. The group wrote a white paper for the Library Administration Management and Planning group that the University Librarian leads to document their findings and offer recommendations about what might work best for our library. Based upon feedback from current and former resident scholars, along with the makeup of already existing opportunities within librarianship, the team decided to recommend the creation of a program whose positions would support current and local MLS students of color, not post-graduates. Our library administration agreed, and a call went out to recruit volunteers for the next phase of the DSP creation process. By November 2015, a DSP Committee had been formed.

Development ~ DSP Committee members were especially inspired by April Hathcock’s 2015 article  “White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS” in which she explains how diversity programs, especially the application process, are coded to promote whiteness, and the need to mentor early career librarians in both playing at and dismantling whiteness within the profession. We knew that we needed to think about the full cycle of the program: the recruitment and application process to encourage people of color to pursue a career in librarianship, the program experience itself to include a strong mentorship competent, support in the job search for program participants, and continued support in the post MLIS experience. In order to more fully develop our program ideas, the committee hosted a one time paid internship for the summer of 2016 to serve as a smaller scale version of how we envisioned the program. After that, we began meeting with our Human Resources contact to develop the position, secured funding from our university librarian, developed a position description, and began the promotion and recruitment process.

To fully implement the program, the DSP Committee created a website, used an internal wiki space to communicate and document activities, and created a promotional brochure. The members of the committee represent the majority of the departments in the library and serve as advocates for the program, as well as mentors and personal contacts for the scholars. The committee works to recruit potential future scholars and sends weekly updates to the library’s administrative group to keep them excited and updated about the program. 

The program is set up so scholars have the opportunity to work a full 18 months in the library. They work 30 weeks per 9 month appointment at 20 hours per week. In addition to their salary, they receive $2500 in professional development funds to attend conferences or other relevant activities.

The Diversity Scholars position description is formatted in the same was as it is for our tenure track librarians – they are expected to attend library-wide and relevant departmental meetings, work on their scholarship, and serve on committees. They each have their own cubicle space and are treated as colleagues. 

Our first Diversity Scholar just recently completed her 18 month appointment in the program, our second scholar will begin her second 9 month appointment in October, and our third scholar begins in October as well. All three of the Diversity Scholars are Latinx women in their mid-to-late 20s, and two of the three scholars were library student employees and OSU undergrads. The first two scholars chose to focus on teaching and engagement, as well as public services activities, and we know that our third scholar has an interest in archives.

The Diversity Scholars are expected to engage in the primary assignment duties of an academic librarian. As examples, the scholars have worked with students in the library’s writing studio, taught library information sessions and workshops, tabled at events, worked the reference desk, complied and analyzed library data, and participated in library wide as well as relevant departmental meetings. As a part of developing their scholarship, the scholars have attended and presented at local Oregon conferences, national ones like ALA, and even one international conference. They have also served on a variety of library committees such as the library awards committee, search committees, and the library employee association. 

To support our scholars, we make sure that they know that their MLIS studies come first and they are strongly encouraged to use their work experiences for class projects. And, we offer a flexible work schedule so they can best manage their time. Scholars are given the opportunity to experience the full scope of an academic library, working in all of our departments and meeting with administrators. They are then able to determine their areas of focus. I meet with the scholars on a weekly basis, and the other members of the DSP Committee also meet with them informally.

An experience that occurred with our first scholar – that we plan to duplicate with the other scholars – is to mentor the scholars through the job search process. Our first scholar used the majority of her last 10 weeks in the program to apply for jobs and participate in job interviews. The Committee reviewed her cover letters, prepped her for phone interviews, and edited her on-campus presentation materials.


I listed recruitment and salary together because they are very much intertwined. While the position does include healthcare coverage, the salary is low, especially for the cost of living in Corvallis. We have no funds to assist with relocation costs so the Committee feels it would be a disservice to ask someone to move to Corvallis with no promise of assistance with moving costs. Therefore, our recruits have been students who are already living in the Corvallis commuter area. Another challenge to recruitment is because there is no in-state MILS program, the students we are recruiting into the profession are having to pay out-of-state tuition costs. Therefore, it is essential for us as a Committee to not only let students know of scholarship opportunities, but to actively help them in the application process – which we have done with some success. So far, our first two Diversity Scholars have been selected as ALA Spectrum Scholars.

One of my personal pet peeves is when colleagues call the Diversity Scholars “interns” since the program is structured to treat them as colleagues to our academic librarians. However, the reality is they are not being paid at that level so while we want them to have the same experiences of academic librarians, it is essential for us to not use them to cover the duties of someone at a much higher pay scale. We try to find the balance to this by making sure that the activities and projects the Scholars take on are of their choosing and help them in building the resume they want that will benefit them in their future career. 

Another challenge the program faces is that while it was always the long-term goal that the DSP would build a cohort among the scholars, the reality is that so far, between scheduling issues and difference in personalities, this has yet to occur, but the program is still very new, so we hope that as we continue building the program, this will occur in the future.  

Lastly, we are continuously working on developing and implementing meaningful assessment – as of now, we ask the scholars to maintain reflective journals and write self-evaluations of their work, and as their supervisor, I seek input from their peers. But in terms of long-term assessment, the Committee feels the true success of the program is whether or not the scholars find employment in an area of their choosing, as well as the long-term retention of the scholars in the profession.

Lessons Learned

In terms of lessons learned, it has be incredibly important for us to secure and sustain administrative support. Our program is in the position that is was a top down initiative, so while we have the support of our university librarian, it is still important for us to assess the program, write reports, and continue to advocate for the scholars.

Developing departmental buy-in has been key to the success of this program. I keep the library’s administration, including department heads, updated weekly on the program, and I meet both formally and informally with them to ensure the projects and activities of the scholars in other departments are going well.

One of my main priorities as the Diversity Scholars’ supervisor is to be their advocate while also empowering them to advocate for themselves. I have conversations with them about the politics of not only the inter-workings of our library, but the professional as a whole.

And lastly, one of our lessons learned has been for the need to practice strategic and proactive recruitment. We have plans for this year to connect with various groups on campus to speak directly with undergraduate students about the possibility of working in libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions as a potential career path.

In terms of our plans for the future, we will continue to support and mentor our first Diversity Scholar and look forward to seeing what comes next for her, and we are excited to host our 3rd Diversity Scholar and begin recruitment for our 4th.  As we have more people participate in the program, we hope to build a strong network among our Diversity Scholars. We are in conversation with our university librarian to secure permanent funding for the positions and raise the salary. In order to ensure the program’s sustainability, we need to expand the DSP Committee membership, especially to include representatives from all of our departments. Lastly, we plan to continue and expand the assessment of the program’s impact both for the library and for the scholars themselves. 

To conclude, while we recognize that our program is only a small contribution to the profession, we see how it has a positive impact on our library, and most importantly, the lives of our diversity scholars.

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OMA Lecture at BCHS

The OMA was honored to be invited to the Benton County Historical Society 2019 Lecture Series to give a presentation titled “In Their Own Words: The Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection” to an audience of over 50 attendees.

The presentation features the Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection, shares the collection backstory and details of the 2015-2016 grant project to make the collection accessible, and showcases some of the interview content within the oral history interviews. The presentation was given by Natalia Fernández, the curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, and associate professor at Oregon State University. She gave a similar presentation in 2017 for the TRIAD Club at OSU; the presentation slides and notes are available online.

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Hattie Redmond History Featured on the Oregon Heritage Exchange Blog

Earlier this summer, the Oregon Heritage Commission Coordinator invited the OMA to write a blog post for the Oregon Heritage Exchange (OHE) blog as part of an initiative to help heritage organizations start planning ahead for the 2020 Centennial of the Women’s Vote. Part of the initiative is a series of blog posts on the OHE blog about suffrage history and women’s history in general, and the OMA was specifically asked to write about the history of Hattie Redmond and the renaming one of OSUs buildings in her honor.

Natalia Fernández, Curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, invited Whitney Archer, Associate Director of OSU’s Diversity & Cultural Engagement and Center Director of the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, to co-author the post. Fernández researched and wrote on Redmond’s history, and Archer focused on the significance of honoring Redmond with the renaming of Benton Annex to the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center. The post also includes a list of references and resources for further reading.

“Hattie Redmond and the Oregon State University Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center” blog post on the Oregon Heritage Exchange Blog

As noted on the OHE blog the year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote. For ideas on how to research women’s history in your community, check out the 2020 Centennial Vote Initiative and refer to the Centennial Vote Planning Guide.

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Milagro in the Oregon Encyclopedia

In 2018 the Oregon Encyclopedia invited the OMA to write an entry about Milagro Theatre, and it is now published! In honor of the bilingualism featured in many of Milagro’s plays, the OE entry is available in both English and Spanish (the first entry of its kind in the OE). The entry includes a brief history of the organization, along with information about its current endeavors.

Milagro, Oregon Encyclopedia Entry

For more information about Milagro’s history, be sure to check out the finding aids for the OMA collections…

Milagro (Miracle Theatre Group) Oral History Collection, OH 31

Milagro (Miracle Theatre Group) Records, MSS Milagro

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Social Justice Tour of Corvallis IV

For the fourth time, the OMA collaborated with the Ethnic Studies 553: Ethnohistory Methodology course taught by Professor Natchee Barnd. The students came to the archives to review OMA and OSQA materials, and visited the Benton County Historical Society archives as well, to conduct research regarding the histories of the OSU and Corvallis area’s traditionally marginalized communities. The 7 students researched and wrote 1-2 stories each, featuring various OSU and Corvallis area histories, and they complied them into a tour guidebook.

On Friday June 7th, about two dozen people, including the OMA and OSQA, gathered to attend an end of term tour given by the class. In addition to being impressed by the students’ excellent historical research and analysis, it was deeply moving to see how they interwove their personal stories into the narratives, thus bringing the archival stories even more meaning and impact for present day audiences. See below for information about the stories and photos from the tour. Additionally, be sure to check out the blog posts regarding the 2014 Tour and the 2016 Tour and the 2017 Tour.

The 7 authors and their stories:

The 13 Stories:

  • Queer Pride
  • April Waddy
  • Dear Black Girls
  • Black History Tours
  • Dave Mann
  • Aki Hill
  • Eugenics
  • The Tree
  • Mi Familia
  • Bill Maxwell
  • MEChA vs. Taco Bell
  • Pearl Spears-Gray
  • Women’s Equality

The 5 Tour Locations:

Photos from the Tour Led by the Students:

The tour began with the story “Dear Black Girls” about the lack of diversity within the OSU College of Forestry and the resilience of the Black women, including the author herself, who have been and are foresters.

The tour moved off campus to the corner of 9th Street and Monroe Ave to share the story of MEChA vs. Taco Bell ~ in 2004 the students of the organization in Corvallis, along with many from across the PNW, joined the national movement to boycott Taco Bell and support tomato pickers.

Professor Natchee Barnd at Crystal Lake Cemetery.

At Casa Latinos Unidos, the stories included Mi Familia, the annual OSU event to welcome Latinx students and their families,

the history of Dave Mann, the first Black football player at OSU,

and the history of Eugenics at OSU.

At the fifth and final location, the OSU MU Quad, the tour participants listened to a poem about women’s equality within athletics, and learned about Pearl Spears Gray, OSU’s Affirmative Action Director.

To conclude the tour, one of the students showcased the history of queer pride and activism in Benton County during the 1980s and 1990s, specifically the work of the Lesbian Avengers who advocated for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.


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Sundown Towns in Oregon, Spring 2019

It’s been about 5 years, and the OMA was delighted to collaborate once again with Professor Jean Moule on her course Sundown Towns in Oregon, based on the book Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen. In 2012 and 2013, our partnership resulted in two small exhibits featuring the students’ research and research process. This year the students focused solely on their research papers – all of which will be added to the Jean Moule Papers (box 2 has past years’ student research on Sundown Towns in Oregon). As part of the class, the students engaged with archival materials from the OMA and visited the Benton County Historical Society. Additionally, a few times throughout the term, the OMA provided research guidance and engaged in discussions pertaining to the students’ research.

So, what is a Sundown Town?

A Sundown Town is “any organized jurisdiction that for decades kept African Americans or other groups from living in it and thus “all-white” on purpose…from about 1890 – 1968, white Americans established thousands of towns across the United States” (Sundown Towns, 4)

And, why is knowing about and understanding Sundown Towns important?

“Recovering the memory of the increasing oppression of African Americans during the first half of the twentieth century can deepen our understanding of the role racism has played in our society and continued to play today” (Sundown Towns, 16)

Where can you learn more about Sundown Towns?

Check out the Sundown Towns website

What did the students research and write about this year?

The 5 students in the spring 2019 course each selected a different town or topic pertaining to the history of Sundown Towns and racism in Oregon. Some students selected the towns where they grew up, learning a new facet of their hometowns’ history they never knew, and others selected to dive deeper into an issue that is particularly meaningful to them.

  • Albany, Oregon
  • North Plains, Oregon
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Philomath High School mascot controversy
  • Maternal Mortality and Racism in the US

The Research Papers…

Albany, Oregon

The author of this paper lived in Albany for the majority of their life prior to attending OSU. Their research – using census data, the Albany Regional Museum, and secondary sources – led them to write about the town’s demographics, specifically the treatment of the Black and Chinese communities during the late 1800s / early 1900s; the creation of two separate high schools due Unionist and Segregationist views within the town’s population; and the presence of the KKK in the town.

North Plains, Oregon

The author researching North Plains also grew up in the town they selected. Their report included a discussion of the challenges of this type of research – lack of sources and lack of response from potential sources. They did, however, use census data and were able to connect with a local journalist, to find some information.

Portland, Oregon

The student who researched Portland expressed their lack of knowledge regarding the history of displacement of the African American community, despite living in the city for two decades. They conducted research in the Oregon Historical Society research library and archives to explore the displacement history with Vanport, Albina, and Alameda as case studies. They interviewed their godmother who shared that the deed to her home included a clause prohibiting an African American to own the house. Additionally, they included various first person accounts from survivors of the Vanport flood in 1948.

Philomath High School mascot controversy

One of two topic (instead of town) based reports was about the Philomath High School mascot, the Warriors, and the controversy surrounding the school’s refusal to change the name. The student places the controversy in both state and local contexts, and includes images from Philomath High School yearbook pages from the 1940s and 1950s with descriptions and depictions of the mascot.

Maternal Mortality and Racism in the US

The other topic based report focused on a comparison between Oregon and Indiana’s maternal mortality rates, specifically those of Black women. Her research led her to better understanding the structural racism and implicit bias within the medical industry; the impacts of state laws and policies on women’s access to healthcare; and an interview with a Black female physician who used to work at Salem Hospital who shared various incidents of both microaggressions and outright racism while working for the hospital.


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Interview About Women, Activism, and Voting

This spring term, Professor of History and Gender Studies Kimberly Jensen taught a course in which her Western Oregon University students contributed content to the Oregon Women’s History Consortium (OWHC). The OWHC includes online exhibits relating to women, activism, and voting in Oregon in preparation for the commemoration of Nineteenth Amendment centenary in 2020. The students’ assignment was to conduct interviews with women about activism and voting, as well as awareness about voter discrimination and continuing efforts to empower all.

Most Oregon women achieved the vote in 1912 and the Nineteenth Amendment, ratified in 1920, placed protections for voting rights for all citizens regardless of sex in the federal constitution. In their work, the students wished to highlight the challenges and barriers to voting for some women, to emphasize the ways that women in our state have used the vote to work for social change.

Questions Asked:

  • In your view, why is voting important?
  • What barriers to voting have some Oregon women experienced?
  • How have some women used the vote as a tool for social change?
  • What additional points do you feel are important for us to consider as we commemorate the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment?

The specific interview with Natalia Fernández, curator and archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, is here: Natalia Fernández interview and the additional interviews can be found here: OWHC Interviews

In addition, this term students in the Women in Oregon History class added content to the Oregon 2020 site with two additional research pages: Oregon Women Protest for Suffrage: National Woman’s Party Members in Oregon and in Washington, D.C., 1917-1918 and Oregon Women in the 1920 Census Born in Mexico

Be sure to take some time to experience the range of topics students have posted to the Oregon Women’s History Consortium site from the Oregon 2020 menu.

More Information about the 2020 Centennial Vote Initiative

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote in the United States. Oregon Heritage, in partnership with Oregon Women’s History Consortium, encourages organizations across Oregon to begin planning now to engage the public in the 2020 Centennial. Below are 3 key opportunities:

1) Contributing sites to the National Votes for Women Trail ~ The National Votes for Women Trail is a project of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites that collects sites from all over the country to tell the untold story of suffrage for all women, of all ethnicities that extends well past the passage of the 19th Amendment. All are welcome to research and contribute new sites. More information can be found here:

2) Documenting historic sites in Oregon connected to women ~ Oregon Heritage is collecting information on places associated with women in Oregon history. These may be residences, business places, social gathering spaces, sites for suffrage and women’s rights, burial sites, campuses, and others. The information will be added to the Oregon Historic Sites Database and may be used to designate properties to the National Register of Historic Places in the future. More information can be found here:

3) Creating exhibits and events that share stories of local suffragettes and women’s history ~ Now is the time to start planning community activities for the 2020 Centennial. A guide for identifying women’s history in your community, programming ideas to consider, and funding opportunities can be found at

The goal for this program is to generate knowledge of women’s history and historic sites in Oregon, share stories of women’s suffrage and women’s history, and commemorate women in Oregon through promotions and social media.

Oregon Heritage is a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department that supports preservation efforts of Oregon’s history, culture, and heritage.

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EOP 50th Anniversary – BSU Walk Out Reenactment

This afternoon the OMA joined the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) in its kick off event to celebrate the program’s 50 year anniversary! The EOP was established as an administrative response to the 1969 Black Student Union Walk Out, so it was fitting for the kick off event to be a reenactment of the walk out.

The event began at the Lonnie B Harris Black Cultural Center with an introduction by LBHBCC Director Terrance Harris, followed by a brief lecture by Dr. Dwaine Plaza giving historical context to the walk out, remarks by Dr. Janet Nishihara – current EOP Director – regarding the 50 years of EOP provided support to a variety of students, and inspiring words by Black Student Union President Angel McNabb-Lyons about being your authentic self and encouraging students to engage in community while attending OSU.

And then the walk out began!

The walk out was a silent walk, with all the Black student, faculty, staff, and community members walking in front, while allies walked behind them in solidarity. We walked from the LBHBCC through campus and out the main gates, just as the students did in 1969. We ended the event with time for reflection to answer the following 2 questions: what has changed or remained the same for Black students at OSU since the 1969 walk out? what is one thing you or your department can do or change to support Black students at OSU?

Check out the pics below and more are available online along with video footage as part of a KEZI news story about the march.

Janet Nishihara, EOP Director. It was standing room only in the LBCC for the lectures before the reenactment walk out.

The Black community members leading the reenactment walkout.

Allies walking in solidarity – there were dozens of participants!


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An LSTA Grant for the Chuck Williams Photo Collection

“OSU Libraries receive grant money for activist photographic collection: Work of photographer Chuck Williams, including cultural events, Oregon landscapes, will be displayed at OSU” by A

After winning a competitive Library Services and Technology Act grant, Oregon State University Libraries will begin to make the Chuck Williams collection accessible to the public.

LSTA grants are available for any public library in Oregon to apply for. In January, OSU Special Collections and Archives Research Center submitted an application with partner Willamette University Libraries for the shared project “Preserving the Legacy of an Oregon Activist and Artist: Making Accessible the Chuck Williams Collections.” This project seeks to preserve and make accessible the work of Williams, an Oregon photographer, activist, and member of the Grand Ronde tribe. Although WU Libraries is the official applicant, both universities will benefit from the $81,156 grant.

According to Natalia Fernández, curator and archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, the idea to apply for an LSTA grant came up years ago. In 2016, OSU acquired Williams’ photographic collection while WU acquired papers detailing Williams’ years as an environmentalist and activist.

“We knew that we wanted to collaborate on a project to ensure both collections would be cared for and made accessible to the public,” Fernández said via email.

Larry Landis, director of SCARC, provided guidance during the creation of the grant proposal. According to Landis, due to the large size of Chuck Williams photographic collection, over 185,000 slides and 7,000 prints, the extra funding was needed.

“We felt that it would probably require some outside funding to make the collection available to researchers,” Landis said.

Fernández and project partner Mary McRobinson began working on the application last November and submitted a final draft in January. In April, the State Library Board approved LSTA funding recommendations at which point grant recipients were notified.

“We were both thrilled when we learned we were awarded an LSTA grant,” Fernández said via email. “We are so excited that our project will enable the public to have access to the collections.”

The main purpose of the project is to make both collections accessible, which will involve digitizing certain content, creating a public exhibition, and promoting the collections to regional and national viewers. According to Fernández, the majority of the funds will be used to hire a full time Project Archivist for a year to work on these tasks so that the collections can become accessible [in] 2020.

According to Landis, accessibility means making collections available online as well as organizing them in a way that is useful to researchers.

“If you don’t have information about the collection and don’t know where things are in the collection, it’s really not very usable,” Landis said.

Fernández believes that when the collection is made public, it will have broad research appeal to those studying subjects such as environmental science and politics, legal and legislative studies, grass-roots activism, photography, and Oregon’s communities of color and multicultural history.

OSU’s Chuck Williams Photo Collection features thousands of his photographs dating from the 1980s to the 1990s. Many of the photographs feature cultural events throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest such as Homowo Festival, India Festival, and Greek Festival. Williams photographed numerous tribal events including Pow-Wows and tribal community clinics. Other photographs show Williams’ love of local landscapes throughout Oregon such as rivers, mountains, and parks.

“These rich and varied images will provide researchers and the public with visual knowledge of both well and lesser-known Oregon festivals, communities, and landscapes,” Fernández said via email.

Landis also believes that the diversity of the photographs means that they will appeal to a wide variety of people.

“Somebody might be interested in these great photographs of events that Chuck Williams photographed, somebody else might have a deep interest in the photographs that he took of various indigenous communities,” Landis said.

WU’s Chuck Williams Activist Papers document Williams’ struggle to preserve the Columbia River Gorge. His activism during this time helped to create the National Scenic Area Act, which protects certain areas from further development.

According to Landis, OSU has received LSTA funding in the past, and was the winner of the 2016[-2017] LSTA project of the year for its work in digitizing William L. Finley collections.

“We have a strong track record of receiving LSTA grants,” Landis said.

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