OBP’s Favorite Books for your Holiday Gift List

Its the season of giving, and if you are like the staff and Board of Oregon Black Pioneers, books are at the top of your holiday shopping list. If you’re looking for good choices for your friends and family, consider some of these titles which are relevant to our work here at OBP!


Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon *NEW*
Kenneth Coleman

This highly anticipated first book by PCC Rock Creek instructor Kenneth Coleman describes the life and times of James D. Saules, a Black sailor who was shipwrecked off the coast of Oregon and settled there in 1841. In Oregon, Saules had to adapt to a new reality in which Anglo-American settlers persistently sought to marginalize and exclude black residents from the region. Dangerous Subjects offers readers insights into the life of a little known figure who was at the center of multiple controversies which may have set in motion Oregon’s infamous Black exclusion laws. Winner of the Oregon Book Award.

Bookshop, Amazon


Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery *NEW*
Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah

In this prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” fifteenth century church edicts that gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” Charles and Rah’s book has particular relevance to the changing political ownership of the “Oregon Country” in the 18th century, where maritime traders and explorers like Lewis and Clark used the Discovery Doctrine to justify their colonial ownership over sovereign lands of Oregon’s first peoples.

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Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory
Gregory R. Nokes

As relevant today as it was when published in 2013, Breaking Chains, tells the story of the only slavery case ever adjudicated in Oregon courts—Holmes v. Ford. Drawing on the court record of this landmark case, Nokes offers an intimate account of the relationship between a slave and his master from the slave’s point of view. He also explores the experiences of other slaves in early Oregon, examining attitudes toward race and revealing contradictions in the state’s history. This title is cited often for revealing the tremendous history of slavery in Oregon and is an OBP favorite.

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A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936
Kimberley Mangun

A Force for Change is a biography of one of Oregon’s most dynamic –and too often overlooked– civil rights icons, Beatrice Morrow Cannady. Between 1912 and 1936, Cannady tirelessly promoted interracial goodwill and fought discrimination through lectures, radio, and through The Advocate, Oregon’s largest African American newspaper which she edited and later owned. As the first Black woman to practice law in Oregon, this title is a great choice in 2020, 100 years after women’s right to vote was affirmed nationwide and as a Black women prepares to accept the office of Vice President of the United States.

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African Americans of Portland – Images of America series *OBP PUBLICATION*
Kimberly Moreland/Oregon Black Pioneers

OBP Board Member Kimberly Moreland offers a historical and pictorial history of Portland’s African American experience using images collected from the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University, and private family collections. The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

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Perseverance: A History of African Americans in Oregon’s Marion and Polk Counties *OBP PUBLICATION*
Oregon Black Pioneers

Your Black history library isn’t complete until it includes our first publication Perseverance! Since the beginning, even before the wagon trains, African Americans have played an essential part in building Oregon. In Marion and Polk counties, they overcame the obstacles of wilderness, prejudice, and isolation, helping to create a vibrant community. They have often been left out of the paintings and statues, but Perseverance brings you many of their names and describes the ways they have made history, taking their rightful place among pioneers past and present in the Willamette Valley.

Buy from OBP!