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Oregon Black History

This is a survey of black history in Oregon. We'll go from the earliest explorations through the wagon train and statehood eras down to the creation of the contemporary Portland black community in the mid-20th century, including the effects of gentrification on the black community. Topics include: pioneer-era racial policy, black exclusion laws, white affirmative action, Jim Crow practices, the KKK in Oregon, and relationships between Oregon police and black communities.

Oregon Black History

Taught by Darrell Millner


This class is a survey of black history in Oregon. We'll go from the earliest explorations through the wagon train and statehood eras down to the creation of the contemporary Portland black community in the mid-20th century, including the effects of recent gentrification on Portland's black community. Topics will include, but will not be limited to: pioneer-era racial policy, black exclusion laws, white affirmative action, Jim Crow practices, the KKK in Oregon, and relationships between Oregon police and black communities.

Week 1: Introduction. We'll introduce the dynamics of the study of black history, starting with the early Oregon black experience from the colonial era through Lewis and Clark.

Week 2: The Frontier. This week, we'll cover the mountain man and wagon train experience and how it relates to blacks, including laws and public policy on race.

Week 3: The 20th Century. We'll look back at blacks in the 20th century in Oregon and the creation of an Oregon and Portland black community.

Week 4: Today. We'll address race, police, gentrification, and public policy in the 21st century.


Darrell Millner is Professor Emeritus of Black Studies at Portland State University and an expert on the history of blacks in the west, Oregon, and Portland.


Photo: Charter members of Portland's Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in 1945.
Courtesy of the June Key Delta Community Center.