This article (titled and linked above) caught my attention having lived in North and Northeast Portland and considered the test scores at Vernon Elementary School on Killingsworth as a possible reason to avoid it, but instead our student had a happy and expansive experience that included a community garden, chess club, and NASA science projects.
Social justice requires being aware of our past and our present so that we can make better and more equitable choices for our future.
Excerpt from the article by Jessica Huseman published in Slate:
Like all of America, Oregon has a racist history, having banned black people from working, living, or owning property in the state until 1926. Afterward, blatantly racist housing practices, such as redlining, forced the few black residents into certain areas. The city and real estate agents, responding to the demands of white residents, refused to sell or rent homes to black families elsewhere, saying they’d decrease home values, says Portland State University urban studies professor Karen Gibson, who published a study on the city’s neglect and destruction of the area titled “Bleeding Albina.”
After World War II, when black families who’d moved to Portland for jobs on air bases were looking for housing, many of them ended up in Vanport—a housing project built just outside of city limits, intentionally separated from the rest of Portland. A 1947Oregon Journal article described Vanport this way: “The colored people have to live somewhere, and whether the Northwesterners like it or not, they are here to stay. It is almost a physical impossibility to throw 20,000 people out on the street."
But that’s exactly what happened in 1948, when Vanport flooded. Because the neighborhood was built on marshland, its safety depended on dikes officials promised would hold. They didn’t. The housing project, built of fiberboard on wooden blocks, literally washed away. Five thousand families were left homeless. One thousand of them were black.