OBP’s “Black in Oregon: 1840-1870” Tours Eastern Oregon!

This Summer, Oregon Black Pioneers’ travelling exhibition “Black in Oregon: 1840-1870” hit the road for a 9 month, three stop tour through Eastern Oregon! Thanks to the generous support of Roundhouse Foundation from Sisters, OR, communities in some of our state’s most rural counties will have free access to this important history.

“Black in Oregon: 1840-1870” highlights some of the Black individuals and families who came to Oregon during the years of legalized racial exclusion, when the provisional and territorial governments of Oregon explicitly barred Blacks from residency and all legal protections. These Black pioneers risked everything to build a better life for themselves and their families in Oregon and helped lay the foundation for the state’s future Black communities.

The exhibit was originally developed by the Oregon State Archives from content compiled by Oregon Black Pioneers and others, and was most recently on display at Benton County Historical Museum in Philomath. Starting this past July, the show will be available for patrons of Cook Memorial Library in La Grande, Harney County Library in Burns, and Lake County Library in Lakeview during regular hours. Library patrons who view this exhibit will learn about the history of slavery in the US and in Oregon, as well as the social and political conditions for racial inequality in 19th century Oregon.

Oregon Black Pioneers strongly believes that all Oregonians –urban and rural–deserve access to high-quality educational experiences, and should know the history of Oregon’s courageous Black pioneers. Just as the stories of Black Oregonians are so often excluded from larger narratives of state history, so too are rural Oregonians left out of meaningful cultural opportunities. Roundhouse Foundation believes strongly in OBPs work and in rural arts and culture, and it is their support which made this exhibit tour possible.

Eastern Oregonians: keep an eye out for “Black in Oregon: 1840-1870” this summer in a library near you!

  • July – September 2021: Cook Memorial Library (La Grande)
  • September – November 2021: Harney County Library (Burns)
  • November – January 2021: Lake County Library (Lakeview)

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.