This Women’s History Month, take a stroll through Portland State’s Walk of the Heroines and celebrate some of the African American women activists and community leaders who left their mark in our city:
Kathryn Bogle was a freelance journalist, social worker and community activist best known for “An American Negro Speaks of Color,” a 2,000-word article she sold to The Oregonian in 1937, which described the realities of being Black in Portland.
Willie Mae Hart
Willie Mae Hart co-owned Portland’s first Black-owned cab company, which helped people out during the Vanport flood, and was the first African-American nurse to work at Portland’s Physicians and Surgeons Hospital. The PSU Library’s University Archives & Special Collections has this interview with Willie Mae Hart from 2010.
Pauline Bradford, among one of the first African Americans hired by the IRS, was a respected teacher, committed community volunteer and longtime neighborhood advocate. The Portland State University Archives & Special Collections has this interview with Pauline Bradford.
The interviews were conducted by Portland State University public history students in 2010. In winter 2015, with professor Dr. Patricia Schechter, a second cohort of students reviewed the recordings and transcripts of the oral histories and created a digital exhibit containing audio and written excerpts from the interviews, photographs, and historical and biographical information. The digital exhibit can be accessed here.
Marie B. Smith
Marie B. Smith was a civil rights leader, a Williams Avenue YWCA board member and became the first female president of the Portland branch of the NAACP.
Verdell Burdine Rutherford
Verdell Burdine Rutherford was a prominent leader in Oregon’s civil rights movement. She also was an avid historian who created an extensive collection that chronicled the African American experience in Oregon, which you can now find at Portland State’s Library Archives & Special Collections.
Beatrice Morrow Cannady
Beatrice Morrow Cannady was a leading champion of Portland progress and racial equality, editor of the Advocate, Oregon’s largest and at times only African American newspaper, and a founding member of the Portland NAACP.
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