Ashland from Sundown to Sunrise

Oregon Black Pioneers’ Public Programs & Exhibits Manager Mariah Rocker was invited to speak at the Ashland Sunrise Project speaker series, where she presented Uncovering Oregon’s Black History, 450 Years in 45 Minutes. Making the most of her trip, she was able to meet up with many Southern Oregon leaders and OBP collaborators, and even take in a show! 

The Ashland Sunrise Project is an initiative of Ashland Together, in collaboration with the Oregon Remembrance Project and supported by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Sunrise Project aims to help former sundown towns develop new identities as “sunrise communities,” the opposite to a sundown town. Sunrise communities are places in which everyone can feel safe, respected, and like they can call this space their home.” – Ashland Together

Mariah kicked off the Ashland Sunrise Project’s inaugural speaker series, presenting at Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Carpenter Hall to about one hundred attendees. Many mentioned seeing this video featuring Mariah and Oregon Black Pioneers, made in collaboration with BASE, on Southern Oregon’s PBS station. Several had also joined Mariah on OBP’s Jacksonville walking tour last year!

After the presentation, Mariah got a tour of Ashland from Ashland Together member Allyson Phelps, stopping to see BIPOC portraits at Ashland High School, and the current Say Their Names memorial. Rounding out the day was lunch with Vance, the founder of BASE, dinner with some of the Ashland Together folks, and an intense and haunting production of Macbeth with Anna Sloan from the Southern Oregon Historical Society

It’s exciting to make connections and put names with faces, as we partner with local organizations throughout the state to identify, interpret, and preserve sites with African American historical significance. Collaborations like these further our mission to research, recognize, and commemorate the history and heritage of African Americans in Oregon.