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Periodically, newspaper or magazine articles appear proclaiming amazement at how white the population of Oregon and the City of Portland is compared to other parts of the country. It is Sex meet black and Portland possible to argue with the figures—inthere were an estimated 91, Blacks in Oregon, about 2 percent of the population—but it is a profound mistake to think that these stories and statistics tell the story of the state's racial past. In fact, issues of race and the status and circumstances of Black life in Oregon are central to understanding the history of the state, and perhaps its future as well.
He was added to the crew when the ship stopped at the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic, off the Africa coast. Lopius, described as a young Black man, was hired as Gray's "servant," but he also performed the same jobs and duties as other crew members.
At Tillamook Bay on the present-day Oregon Coast, Lopius was on shore cutting grass for the ship's stock when a local Native ran off with his cutlass. Lopius caught the thief, upon which other Indians attacked him with knives and spears. He was finally felled by a flight of arrows as he tried to reach his fellow crew members. Even more information is available about Yorkthe next documented Black to arrive in Oregon.
He played a ificant role in the success of the enterprise, transporting supplies, hunting for food, participating in scouting and side trips, and constructing forts and shelters. He was also the first Black person that some of the Natives they encountered had ever seen, making him an important diplomatic asset in establishing relationships with resident populations.
When the expedition was near starvation on the return trip inYork was able to secure needed provisions as an emissary to people who lived along the way.
James Douglas, known as "Black Douglas," served with distinction as chief factor at Fort Vancouver in the s. Douglas was born in Demerara, British Guiana, in His father, John Douglas, was a Scottish merchant who managed a family sugar plantation, and his mother, Martha Ann Ritchie, was a free "coloured" woman from Barbados. After many years of working for the Hudson's Bay Companyhe reached the pinnacle of his power in the s and s when he served concurrently as the second governor of Vancouver Island and the first governor of British Columbia. For his service, Douglas was knighted by Queen Victoria.
During the wagon train era, from toBlack participation in overland trail migration was kept small by both national and local public policy. Nationally, over three million Blacks in the American South were restrained by their status as slaves held by white owners.
The provisional and territorial governments in Oregon banned slavery, but some settlers were determined to create a white homeland by making Black residence of any kind illegal. To do so, it was necessary to exclude both slave and free Blacks. The first Black exclusion law in Oregon, adopted in by the Provisional Governmentmandated that Blacks attempting to settle in Oregon would be publicly whipped—thirty-nine lashes, repeated every six months—until they departed.
There is no documented record of any official whipping—the law was written with a grace period, and it was repealed before it had expired—but the concept was clear. Inthe Oregon Territorial Government adopted a second Black exclusion law, which was repealed in The Oregon constitution, adopted inbanned slavery but also excluded Blacks from legal residence. It made it illegal for Blacks to be in Oregon or to own real estate, Sex meet black and Portland contracts, vote, or use the legal system. Like earlier exclusion laws, the constitutional ban, which took effect when Oregon became a state inwas not retroactive, which meant that it did not apply to Blacks who were legally in Oregon before the ban was adopted.
There were several periods between and when Blacks could establish legal residence in Oregon: 1 for about four years, before the adoption of the ban; 2 for about four years, after the repeal of the law and before the adoption of the law; and 3 for about six years, after the repeal of the law and before the constitutional ban of During those twenty years, therefore, there were more years when it was legal for Blacks to reside in Oregon than when it was illegal. Nevertheless, Oregonians made it clear that Blacks were not welcome, and few established residence in Oregon during this time.
The greatest impact of the exclusion laws was not in how many Blacks were whipped, sent out of the state, or stopped at the state line but in their deterrent effect on potential Black immigrants. The laws made it clear that Oregon was a hostile destination for Blacks contemplating a move west, and they proved to be remarkably effective. Potential Black immigrants who had the means and the motivation to go west simply chose to go elsewhere.
The other factor that complicated issues of Black residence and slavery was the Dred Scott v. Sanford Supreme Court decision inwhich declared that slave masters had the right to take their slaves anywhere in the country. That ruling compromised all laws about race and slavery in Oregon at the time.
The exclusion laws notwithstanding, by far the most devastating anti-Black law passed during this era was the federal Donation Land Act ofwhich declared that land would only be granted to "every white settler American half breed Indians included"; the second group was included to make eligible the offspring of early white male settlers and their Indian wives. By removing most Indians to reservations and excluding all but white landownership, the vision of Sex meet black and Portland white homeland in Oregon was embedded in public policy.
In subsequent generations, the profits, power, and political influence that flowed from near exclusive white landownership were manifested in the construction of a racially stratified society in which white ascendancy was assured and nonwhite marginalization was profound. To understand later patterns of political, economic, and social inequality in Oregon, it is necessary to be aware of these early examples of race-based public policy that benefited only the state's white population.
During the Civil Warthe Oregon legislature approved additional anti-Black prohibitions, including a Black poll tax in The state also prohibited whites from marrying not only Blacks but also Chinese, South Pacific Islanders, and any person with more than half Indian parentage. The law, on the books until the s, also punished the person who performed any such marriage ceremonies with a fine and prison.
Like the exclusion and land laws, the most powerful effect of such laws was the message they sent that Oregon was a place where only whites were welcome. In spite of this hostile environment, a small of Blacks immigrated to the Oregon Country, where they made ificant contributions. George Bush, for example, crossed the trail from Missouri in and established a successful frontier farm at present-day Tumwater, Washington. One of his sons would serve in the Washington territorial legislature before the turn of the twentieth century.
George Washington, a person of mixed race, crossed the trail with his adopted white family in the early s and established a homestead in western Washington, where he founded the town of Centralia in the s.
ificantly, both men settled north of the Columbia River in the part Sex meet black and Portland the Oregon Country that had been under the control of the Hudson's Bay Company, where the influence of American racial policies was less pervasive. In general, the hostile racial climate continued to retard the immigration of a ificant Black population to Oregon between the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century, and the status and security of those already in the state remained questionable.
Blacks found it difficult to accumulate wealth and property, and it was virtually impossible for them to acquire political power and influence. Blacks who did settle in Oregon lived throughout the state, although in different concentrations and circumstances. While the percentage of Blacks as a part of Oregon's total population was consistently small—less than one percent until as late as —in absolute s, there were scores of Blacks in Oregon during the trail period, hundreds during the post Civil War era, and thousands during the twentieth century.
In the early years, Blacks settled wherever whites did in Oregon, experiencing both harsh failures and impressive successes.
Generally, their status depended on how they had arrived, who they were associated with, and how well they interacted with their neighbors in a frontier environment. Wherever a demand for specialized labor materialized, Black workers might be recruited elsewhere, imported to Oregon, and then often deported, by formal or Sex meet black and Portland means, after the need for their labor was exhausted. In the s, for example, when coal deposits were found in the hills around Marshfield present-day Coos Bayhundreds of Blacks from Appalachia were brought to work in the mines.
When the coal was gone, they were encouraged to leave. A few Black cowboys worked the ranches in the Pendleton area and became prominent in the rodeo culture in eastern Oregon during the s. In northeastern Oregon, in the s and s, Black loggers worked the forest around Maxville until the yields were no longer profitable. After the arrival of the railroad in eastern Oregon, some Black families lived in small towns, such as La Grandeproviding related services for the railro.
Wartime and military activities often resulted in the creation of small Black colonies in unexpected places. Air Force base in Klamath Falls later attracted a small Black population. After the s, every city or town in Oregon with a university or college had Black residents, often athletes but also scholars and students. In most of these situations, Blacks were expected to accept a subordinate place in Oregon life, forced by circumstances to accept an inferior status, but they did not discard the vision that things would be better for their children.
These relatively small groups of specialized Black labor, however, are not the main story of Black settlement and residence in Oregon. During the late nineteenth century, most Black Oregonians, effectively excluded from rural Oregon by land laws and racial hostility, gravitated to urban centers. Most went to Portland, where they worked for the railro and related industries.
Transcontinental rail service had reached Portland in the s, and the Portland Hotel was built to service the growing business and travel-related needs of the city. While administrative, management, and most supervisory jobs were held by whites, Blacks staffed the visible and profitable restaurant and entertainment facilities and provided manual, domestic, and other types of labor.
Employment in these two growing industries created the first recognizable Black neighborhood in Portland in what is now Old Town Chinatown and the Pearl District. Work on the railroad and in service—both commercial and domestic—became the economic pillars of Black community life. There was another, less savory economic component to Black Oregon life. When an entire population is prevented by law and social practice from achieving legitimate success through respectable labor and commerce, some members of that population turn to illegitimate activities.
Portland was a wide-open town, where police and political corruption thrived well into the twentieth century. There were legitimate businesses as well, of course, many of them in the Williams Avenue, Vancouver Avenue, Broadway corridor, which became a popular entertainment center of Portland.
Black-owned clubs, restaurants, and small businesses flourished in the neighborhood, protected by a well-lubricated system of bribes and kickbacks to local police and political powerbrokers. Oregon had formalized the practice of racial discrimination early in the twentieth century. InOliver Taylor sued a theater owner for refusing him a box seat because of his race; the trial judge dismissed the suit.
Lawyer McCants Stewart won the case in appeal Taylor v. Cohn in the Oregon Supreme Court in A subsequent discrimination case argued by McCants inAllen v. Sex meet black and Portland Amusement Parkwas identical in circumstances to Taylor v. Cohnbut lost in the Oregon Supreme Court, confirming and sanctioning the practice of racial segregation in public places and services—a ruling that would remain in place until the legislature passed an anti-discrimination law in Segregation was most widely and powerfully practiced in the real estate industry. Restrictive covenants, redlining, and prohibitions in the real estate handbook established the inner northeast section of the city for Blacks.
Outside Portland, many rural towns with small or nonexistent Black populations enforced Sundown Laws that required Blacks to be out of town by nightfall or face hostile action by the police, private citizens, or both. By the s, Oregon had a well-established and well-earned reputation as a hostile and dangerous place for Blacks. That reputation was solidified by the Sex meet black and Portland in the state of the largest Ku Klux Klan chapter west of the Mississippi River.
The power of the Klan was based on the political influence of its leaders, the potential for economic coercion of whites who did not support Klan ideology, and the awareness that the Klan would not hesitate to use violence to enforce its dictates. The decades of exclusionary practices had been so successful in keeping the Black population small and isolated that Blacks were a secondary target.
Still, the Klan was a visible and intimidating force in Oregon politics and society, and it was not uncommon for KKK members to parade through city streets in full regalia—displays that were often followed by torchlight rallies and public cross burnings. House of Representatives. Oregon Blacks resisted Klan activities and influence on multiple levels.
When Blacks were denied access to white services and goods, individuals in the Black community filled the gap. Blacks owned hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses; and fraternal and social organizations and clubs provided both community and recreation. A Black weekly newspaper, the Advocateowned and edited by activist Beatrice Morrow Cannadyprovided communication and inspiration, and Black churches were places to associate, bond, and maintain spiritual and psychological strength.
Many Black businesses, chronically underfunded, failed, further fracturing the economic stability of the Black community. Surviving the Depression required all the ingenuity and strength people could muster. Between the beginning of the twentieth century and World War II, there was a gradual change in the size and location of the Black community in Portland. In the early years, Blacks lived in outlying areas; but as the railroad industry boomed, they gravitated to the neighborhood around Union Station and Old Town.
As the size of the community grew, it jumped the Willamette River to the inner northeast area, on Broadway, Williams Avenue, and Vancouver Avenue.
Yet, it was also a cohesive, viable entity that provided what was needed for a fully functional community. World War II changed the realities of race in Oregon and brought on the beginning of the modern Black experience in the state.
Change was both dramatic and swift, as Portland became the center of a wartime shipbuilding industry. A temporary federal housing project, the largest in the country, was built on the Columbia River to house wartime workers. About a quarter of the residents of the new city, named Vanport for its location between Portland and Vancouver, were Black.
The major racial issue during this period involved the largest shipyard union, the Boilermakers, which prohibited Black membership, with the complicity of shipyard management. As a result, Black workers had the least skilled jobs in the yard, which made them more vulnerable than whites to layoffs and unemployment. At the end of the war, many Blacks left the state as shipyard jobs disappeared, but many decided to stay. The postwar Black population stabilized at about six times the size of the prewar population.
Most lived in Vanport, until a devastating flood on the Columbia in swept that city away. Finding a place for displaced Vanport Blacks to live became a racial crisis. The neighborhood was favored because of its older, less desirable housing and its proximity to both Vanport and the older Black community. Further, more and more whites were leaving the city for the suburbs, and creating a Black neighborhood in Albina did not interfere with or threaten that exodus.
The circumstances of these demographic changes pushed Portland in new directions in racial matters as Oregon entered the s. The war against Sex meet black and Portland overseas during World War II had revealed some unpleasant racial practices and realities in the United States.Sex meet black and Portland
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