New Plaque Honors One Of Eugene’s First Black Residents

Feb 17, 2017

A new plaque honors one of Eugene’s earliest African American residents at the site of his former home. Historical research has found that Wiley Griffin lived near the current Eugene Water and Electric Board. The plaque was unveiled Friday.

Wiley Griffin arrived in Eugene in 1891. He was one of the first known African-Americans to live in the city, despite an exclusion clause in the state constitution that made it illegal for blacks to settle in Oregon. Griffin drove a mule-drawn trolley, as Eugene City Councilor Greg Evans explains…

Griffin: “Providing students, faculty and other members of the community transportation between the downtown area and the University of Oregon. And his role in doing that was significant.”

Griffin also worked as a janitor at the U of O. His home was in what was then the outskirts of Eugene city limits, near the Willamette River. From historical photos, it looks like Griffin’s home was regularly flooded during the rainy season.