Oregon Black Pioneers Shares Teaching Strategies with Primary Sources at PSU

This fall, Portland State University kicked off a major teacher’s institute called Teaching Black History with Geography and Primary Documents. From Nov. 2021 – Spring 2023, participating Oregon teachers will take part in a series of workshops related to how geography and primary sources documents can be tools for revealing Black history lessons in their classrooms. Oregon Black Pioneers was invited to lead one session at the first workshop this past weekend.


Oregon Black Pioneers was invited to present at this Portland workshop by the teaching institute’s organizers: Portland State University Center for Geography Education in Oregon. OBP Executive Director Zachary Stocks spoke to workshop attendees on how OBP uses primary sources in its archive to share stories of Black Oregonians long ago. Using strategies adapted from the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards, OBP encourages educators to use primary sources as starting points for facilitated dialogue. Students can then use these materials to form questions, assess the validity of other’s claims, and form a “big picture” narrative from the sources they compile.

While education has historically been part of OBP’s work, it has been many years since the non-profit has provided direct education to students. This workshop had the added benefit of bringing Stocks together with Oregon teachers, which will hopefully create new opportunities for collaboration. The Oregon Black Pioneers Board recently prioritized education as a key goal for the next two years.

The next stop for the teaching institute cohort is Coos Bay, Oregon this coming Spring. There, attendees will take part in workshop sessions with a particular focus on the story Alonzo Tucker, Oregon’s only documented Black lynching victim. Oregon Black Pioneers was one of several organizations which collaborated on a historical marker related to Alonzo Tucker’s story, dedicated in June 2021.

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.