Oregon history

Walidah Imarisha

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. We celebrate it at a time when Oregon's population is not quite two-percent African-American.  A Portland State University professor is criss-crossing the state asking this provocative question: Why aren't there more blacks in Oregon?

It was a bittersweet commemoration as a packed auditorium listened to the Northwest Freedom Singers and heard Portland State University professor Walidah Imarisha says that in the 1840's, Oregon became the only U.S. territory with a racial exclusion law:

Photo by W.S. Bowman, 1916.

Oregon needs to do more to preserve its history-- that's according to people who support a new state Heritage Plan. It would set many of the state's historic preservation priorities for the next five years.

The median annual budget for the many small museums around the state is less than a typical lower income household, and many depend on volunteers to keep their doors open. Kyle Jansson is with the Oregon Heritage Commission. He says more training for caretakers is one aspect of the plan.