Tuesday, August 25, 2020


Race Tensions in Oregon: How Did We Get Here?

Edgefield Virtual History Pub

Edgefield - Blackberry Hall

Event goes live at 7 pm

All ages welcome

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Due to COVID and staffing changes, this event has been postponed indefinitely.

About Race Tensions in Oregon: How Did We Get Here?

Race Tensions in Oregon: How Did We Get Here?

Presented by R. Gregory Nokes, author and journalist

The outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement represents a dramatic shift from the deep-seated racism in Oregon's history. The first white settlers imposed exclusion laws banning blacks, including an exclusion clause written into Oregon's constitution that wasn't repealed until 1926. No other free state had such a law in its Constitution.

Few now know that Oregon voters actually voted in 1857 on whether Oregon would become a slave state. Or that Oregon's first governor, Joseph Lane, ran for vice president on a slave state ticket against Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

No one more epitomized Oregon's racism than Tennessee-born Peter Hardeman Burnett who in 1844 led enactment of an exclusion law that included severe whipping for blacks who refused to leave. Burnett, also a future governor of California, envisioned an all-white population on the West Coast--no Blacks, no Native Americans and no Chinese.

Oregon author and journalist R. Gregory Nokes recently wrote of this history in an article in The Oregonian entitled "Oregon's racist history runs deeper than you might think." Greg will discuss how racism developed in Oregon and how it has only recently evolved into one of the nation's most strident Black Lives Matter movements that prompted President Trump's ill-advised decision to send federal forces into Portland streets.

About the Speaker:
R. Gregory Nokes has traveled the world as a reporter and editor. He is author of three non-fiction Western histories. His latest book is The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett: Oregon Pioneer and First Governor of California, was published in 2018 by Oregon State University Press. His earlier books are Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon in 2009, and Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory in 2013, both also published by OSU Press.

Greg spent more than forty years in journalism, during which he traveled to more than fifty countries. As a reporter in Washington, D.C. for The Associated Press, he covered the State Department and traveled with several presidents and secretaries of state on foreign trips. Greg started his career as a reporter for the Medford Mail Tribune, and finished at The Oregonian, where he was both an editor and reporter. He retired from journalism in 2003 to embark on a second career as an author and lecturer on Northwest history.

A native of Oregon, Nokes did his undergraduate work at Willamette University. He attended Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow in 1971-72. Nokes and his wife, Candise, live in West Linn, Oregon.

About Edgefield Virtual History Pub

Edgefield Virtual History Pub

McMenamins History is pleased to broadcast live, free virtual programming, accessible to anyone with a Facebook account. We’ll bring you scholars, writers, experiencers, experts and more who will give presentations on Pacific Northwest history. Join us for these scheduled events on the McMenamins History page on Facebook – and don’t forget to stock up on your favorite McMenamins beer, wine, cider and more beforehand!