• Taylor Stewart

What the Community Remembrance Project means to me

Racism in Oregon is not confined to a single incident. The story

of Alonzo Tucker represents a longer history of racism that has yet to be widely acknowledged or given the opportunity to find reconciliation.

Racism is embedded into Oregon’s history. In 1859, Oregon entered the Union as the only state with black exclusionary laws. In the 1920’s, Oregon was home to the largest Ku Klux Klan organization west of Mississippi. In 1922, a member of the Klan, Walter Pierce, was elected governor of Oregon. In the 80’s and 90’s, Oregon became hive for one of the

largest skinhead movement in the country. Racism in the modern era is punctuated by “urban renewal,” which continues to displace Oregon’s largest black community.

The fact that a lynching occurred in Oregon was not accidental. It is the result of Oregon’s previous disposition toward blacks and fits chronologically into the state’s larger history of racism. This particular lynching affected the racial demography of Oregon for decades to come and set a precedent for the black experience in southern Oregon.

Coos Bay is beginning to address with its relationship to racism. They’re making a commitment to maintain ongoing conversations on race and racism in their community, even if it means acknowledging and confronting the legacy of lynching in America.

Coos Bay is ready to grapple with its history of racism. Are other communities ready to join them?

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