Avel Louise Gordly, the first African American woman elected to the Oregon State Senate, begins her book, Remembering the Power of Words, with an epigraph from poet Audre Lorde: “While we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.”
That words have power is a constant undercurrent in Gordly’s memoir and a truth she learned early in her life. “Growing up, finding my own voice,” she writes, “was tied up with denying my voice or having it forcefully rejected.” For too long, black voices have been diminished in America.
Today, amidst the widespread outrage and sorrow over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and other victims of police brutality, it’s time to amplify those voices.
OSU Press stands in solidarity with all who fight for racial justice. To help Oregonians to better understand our state’s long history of racial exclusion, white supremacy, and the efforts at resistance, we recommend the following books that are available at http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/books. After that, there is a short list of other resources and further reading.
Black Woman in Green: Gloria Brown and the Unmarked Trail to Forest Service Leadership by Gloria D. Brown and Donna L. Sinclair
Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader by Avel Louise Gordly with Patricia A. Schechter
This is Not For You: A Memoir by Richard Brown and Brian Benson (forthcoming, spring 2021)
History of Black Exclusion and Racism in Oregon
Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in Oregon by R. Gregory Nokes
The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West by Max G. Geier
Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon by Kenneth R. Coleman
A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936 by Kimberley Mangun
Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz, 1942-1957 by Robert Dietsche
The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett: Oregon Pioneer and First Governor of California by R. Gregory Nokes
Association of University Presses, “Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism”
Oregon Historical Society, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are”
OSU President Edward Ray, “After another tragedy, it’s time to make real change a priority”
Vanport Mosaic, a nonprofit organization in Portland, is a memory-activism platform. Their mission is to amplify, honor, present, and preserve the silenced histories that surround us in order to understand our present, and create a future where we all belong.