8 Places to Learn About Black History in Portland

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While Black History Month offers Portland families the opportunity to focus on educating themselves about African American history and ethnicity, Portland and its surrounding areas have landmarks and locations you can can visit year-round and as one of the ways to celebrate Black History. Starting this month, try going on a couple of walking tours through Portland planned around these historical landmarks. They offer opportunities for the whole family to exercise, play and learn. Read on for more.

photo: Central City Concern

Golden West Building

Once known as The Golden West Hotel, the Golden West Building was established by African American entrepreneur William D. Allen in 1906 and provided short and long-term lodging to Black clientele who were otherwise denied accommodations at the city’s white-owned hotels. This Portland Black History Land Mark is often considered one of the most important landmarks in Portland’s Black history. It was the second largest Black hotel in the United States at the time. The railroads brought African-American railroad workers to the Portland area, but there was nowhere for them to stay. So, Black entrepreneur and Tennessee native William D. Allen established the Golden West Hotel in 1906, giving Black railway porters, cooks, waiters, and travelers a place to stay. But, it wasn't just a hotel. It boasted100 rooms, entertainment, an athletic club, ice cream parlor and a gambling house making the hotel  central to Black life in Portland.

707 NW Everett St., Portland OR
Online: centralcityconcern.org/goldenwest

Unthank Park

Active kids will love hopping parks while learning about the amazing Black American's that helped make our city great. Make sure Unthank Park is on your list of Black History stops. It was acquired by the City of Portland in 1966 and named after DeNorval Unthank, a prominent African American doctor and community leader, who was one of the first black doctors in the state. DeNorval moved to Portland in 1929 to start his own practice and joined the staff of Good Samaritan, Providence, St. Vincent, and Emanuel Hospitals. The park's amenities include a basketball court, baseball field, playground, and picnic tables.

510 N Shaver Street
Portland, OR 
Online: portland.gov/parks/unthank-park

Charles Jordan Community Center

Take your kids on a field trip to this local community center that was renamed in2012, in honor of Charles Jordan, Portland’s first African-American City Commissioner and Portland Parks & Recreation Director. Known as the force behind the creation of beloved Portland landmarks like Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Delta Park, and Southwest Community Center, Charles Jordan broadened the agenda of the environmental movement and land conservation to make it more inclusive on a national stage. Additionally, he is known for putting people of color at the heart of the American Conservation Movement.

9009 N Foss Avenue
Portland, OR

Online: portland.gov/parks/charles-jordan-community-center

Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park Playground Project

Spring is on it's way, and you will want to head to the parks. Your first stop should be the Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park. If the name isn't familiar, that's because, the former Lynchview Park was renamed Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park in June of last year. Verdell Burdine Rutherford is a prominent black female civil rights leader and historian who lived in Oregon from 1913 to 2001. She lead the civil rights movement in Oregon and as secretary of the Portland chapter of the NAACP she helped pass the Oregon Civil Rights Bill in 1953, which outlawed discrimination in public places on the basis of “race, religion, color or national origin.”

The parks has been renovated with new playground area, pathways, irrigation improvements, and other park amenities that little and big Portlanders will love and enjoy year round. Now it's also the perfect place to give your child a quick Oregon Black History lesson.

SE 167th Avenue and Market Street in east Portland
Online: portland.gov/parks/construction/verdell-burdine-rutherford-park-playground-project

Dean's Beauty Salon And Barber Shop

Looking for a new hair salon? Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop at 215 N.E. Hancock St. was established in 1954 by Mary Rose Dean and her husband Benjamin Dean. This business is no small deal, it is likely both the oldest Black-owned salon in all of Oregon and perhaps even more notably it's thought to be the oldest Black-owned business in Oregon. The business has remained in the Dean family now for four generations and show no signs of slowing down. It's beloved by it's customer base and the entire Portland community. Swing by and show your kids this historical spot for a little dose of our local and state-wide Black history.

Online: Deansbeautysalon.com/

The Dream Statue

Take your kids to the Oregon Convention Center where they can behold Portlands beloved monument to Martin Luther King. The Dream is an 8-foot bronze statue depicting Martin Luther King Jr. The statue shows King stepping forward to deliver his powerful message. He is joined by three figures: a young white man who symbolizes the working American; a woman wading ashore who represents the country's immigration history; and a young girl, shown releasing King's coattail, who represents "intergenerational respect". This monument will give you and your little ones a great opportunity open up conversations about Black history and the history of racism in America, and more specifically, Oregon. Don't forget to grab a quick photo.

777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd,
Portland, OR 
Online: oregoncc.org/

Abbey Creak Vinyard

We know Portland parents love their wine. One of the first places you need to read up on and check out is Abbey Creak Vinyard and the Abbey Creak Portland Crick, where you'll get to enjoy wine made by Oregon's first Black wine maker! Wine maker Bertony Faustin launched his first small batch winery in 2007. Breaking into the wine industry is no small feat. Faustin's Abbey Creak Vinyard has seen much success with two Cricks for local families to visit: one in Portland and the other in North Plains. Now you can enjoy your reds and whites while getting a taste of history. Speaking of, you can catch Faustin's Documentary "Red, White, and Black", a film shinning the spotlight on the lives of Oregon's minority winemakers here

31441 NW Commercial Street
​North Plains, OR 

912 SW Morrison Street
​Portland, OR 
online: abbeycreekvineyard.com/

PCC Margaret Carter Technology Education Building

Margaret Loise Carter was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1935. She graduated salutatorian of her senior class. She escaped an abusive relationship by moving to Oregon where she became a teacher's assistant in the Portland Public Schools. After attending and graduating from Portland State University in 1972, she enrolled for her Masters in educational psychology and eventually ended up working as a counselor at PCC.Sen. Margaret Carter’s personal and professional association with the college covers five decades, when she began taking classes at the Cascade Campus to support her baccalaureate studies. In 1984 she rand for state office and became the first African American woman elected to Oregon legislature and spent serving in either the House or Senate for the next 28 years. Take your family to Carter's old school stomping grounds where they can check out PCC Margaret Carter Technology Education Building: a tribute to this history making woman.

705 N Killingsworth St
Portland, OR
Online: pcc.edu

—Annette Benedetti

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