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Urban League of Portland Newsletter- March 2013

Our Voices United 

Legislative Action Day

On February 19th, 200 community members from across Oregon filled the halls of the state’s Capitol to take part  in a hugely successful and historic Legislative Action Day.  Students, seniors and representatives of over 30 organizations met with legislators, shared their stories and advocated for  jobs, cultural competent health care, an end to police profiling, housing ,education and a bill to promote natural hair care.

Teams of advocates and leaders, many of whom had been trained in how the legislative system works,   discussed issues facing the African American community and spoke with over 20 lawmakers seeking support for legislative solutions. Our Voice United was sponsored by the Urban League of Portland, the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs and the Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) . The day was kicked off by a program featuring an inspiring speech by former state senator Avel Gordly, greetings from Oregon’s Diversity and Inclusion Director, Frank Garcia, representing Governor John Kitzhaber, and poetry by artist S. Renee Mitchell. Representative Lew Frederick and Senator Chip Shields also welcomed attendees to the Capitol. During the Senate floor session, a proclamation was introduced by Senator Shields honoring Mr. Charles Jordan who has made significant contributions to the African American community and Rob Ingram, a community leader and Urban League Young Professionals President who passed last year.

Legislative advocacy will continue during the session, with a focus on our Legislative Priorities including cultural competency for health care providers, a natural hair care bill that will allow practitioners to operate on a limited license, a profiling bill aimed at eliminating police profiling and our full legislative agenda. If you are interested in joining us during the session, please contact  Ty Schwoeffermann.

Celebrating Black History Month

Sharing our Stories, Highlighting our Contributions, Celebrating our Successes

Urban League Senior Center Celebrates Black History

Once again, the Urban League’s Senior Center marked Black History Month on the last day of February with celebration and memory sharing. The event drew a crowd of over 100 seniors. Portland business leader, Ray Leary was the keynote speaker, sharing the story of Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History and the experiences of African Americans in Portland. Many in the audience had lived through the period he described, when African American Portlanders were challenged by discrimination and exclusion.  The seniors were entertained by African drummers and dancers from Ghana, and community partner Meals on Wheels prepared a soul food meal for the event. “Our seniors said this was the best Black History celebration we have had”, said Arleta Ward Christian, Activities Coordinator. ‘We are looking forward to an even bigger event next year”.

Challenges of the Northwest: The African American Experience

On February 28th, the Department of Human Services (DHS)  in partnership with the Urban League presented a lunch-time forum on the Challenges of the Northwest: The African American  Experience. The packed event held at the June Key Delta Center, brought together a panel of native Oregonians who talked about their families’ early experience in Portland. The discussion, moderated by Kory Murphy featured former Senator Avel Gordly, Mr. Geoffrey Brooks, Laverne Bagley Brown and Leslie Unthank also shared their experiences in the Portland of the 40s, 50s, 60s to the present. A list of resources highlighted at the meeting  to explore this period include: Local Color:The Little-Known History of Racism and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon. Local Color:; and Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, by Dr. Joy DeGruy Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,

Urban League President & CEO Keynotes OHSU Black History Event 

Michael Alexander, President and CEO of the Urban League of Portland was the guest speaker at the OHSU Center Diversity & Inclusion’s Black History Celebration, sponsored by the African American Employee Resource Group. During the forum, “We Live the History We Make”, Mr. Alexander spoke about the contributions and progress made by African Americans in the workforce. He also talk about the importance of recruiting and retaining African American workers across all occupations in the health sector and other industries.  Prior to his current position at the Urban League of Portland, Mr. Alexander was a health care industry leader at Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield.


WHERE: Portland City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave (bet. Jefferson & Madison)

WHEN:  Thursday, March 7th @ 3 PM

WHY:      To show your support for a citywide paid sick days policy in Portland! The more supporters in this hearing, the clearer it is that Portlanders want their city council to pass a sick days policy now!

WHO:      You, your friends, your co-workers and your family! Anyone is welcome to sit in the audience. Kids, too!

RSVP:      Not required. Just show up!

Save the Date 



MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2013

10:00 A.M – 4:30 P.M.

Double Tree Hotel Lloyd Center 1000 NE Multnomah St, Portland, OR 97232

For More Information Contact:

Debra Lindsay

Director of Workforce Development

(503) 280-2600 ext. 640