Myrtle Lee Carr (April 18, 1920 – September 23, 2022) was a justice pioneer throughout her life. She was born in Louisiana and raised in Mississippi and Ohio. In 1945, she moved to Portland with some of her cousins and was a survivor of the Vanport Flood in 1948.
After relocating to Portland, Carr started volunteering as a receptionist with the Urban League of Portland and was eventually hired as a secretary. She worked under the leadership of two renowned Executive Directors, Bill Berry and E. Shelton Hill, both influential in shaping employment opportunities in the 1950s and 1960s. In her 36 years of service to the league, she held positions such as an interviewer, office manager and job development specialist, where she advocated for African Americans in Portland and across Oregon. Her contributions were foundational to the services we provide, and our work continues to honor her legacy
Carr was involved with other organizations like Jack & Jill of America and NAACP and was a board member for the Blessed Martin Nursery. She was a crucial part of St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Parish, the only African American Episcopal church in Oregon. She served with St. Monica’s Guild, a women’s group at St. Philip’s, and built basis for a social services model still active today. Carr was also nominated as a recipient of the Woman of Excellence award by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Myrtle Carr set an example for leadership and service in her career and personal life. May she rest in peace and power.