Oregon’s 363 mile coastline is dotted with charming seaside towns and amazing natural landscapes. But while the coast is a destination for millions, there is very little visible African American presence in these communities. Surprisingly, the coast is where Oregon’s Black history begins. The first Black presence in the place we call Oregon began on these shores more than 400 years ago, and there has been a continued presence of Black Americans in Oregon’s coastal towns for more than 150 years.
Oregon Coast Visitor Association (OCVA), the official destination marketing agency for the Oregon Coast, reached out to Oregon Black Pioneers (OBP) to help share some of these seldom-told stories of the Coast’s Black history. OBP and OCVA have worked together before; in 2020, OBP created a Black history toolkit for OCVA’s regional partners, so that local communities from Warrenton to Brookings know about the African American individuals who have made contributions to these beach towns.
Oregon Black Pioneers Executive Director Zachary Stocks planned a 5-stop roadtrip for Black history seekers traveling the Oregon Coast, and published it as a guest article on OCVA’s website Visit the Oregon Coast. Stops include places of celebration, but also places for remembrance. OBP’s regular followers will recognize many of these sites and stories.
OBP made outdoor recreation a priority for its programming in 2021, as Black Americans are too-often disconnected from nature. If you are considering travels during Black History Month and planned to visit the Oregon Coast, consider stopping by some of the sites mentioned in this article. And, be sure to grab a meal and a beer at Fort George Brewery on Tue. Feb. 22, where the pub will be donating 10% of nightly sales to Oregon Black Pioneers!
Oregon Black Pioneers is an educational non-profit based in Salem. Since 1993, OBP has used research, exhibitions, and public programs to tell the seldom-told stories of people of African descent in Oregon. OBP’s vision is to be the premier source for information about Oregon’s African American heritage. For more information please visit oregonblackpioneers.org.