Perseverance: A History of African Americans in Oregon's Marion and Polk Counties

By Stuckey, Melissa | Oregon Historical Quarterly, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Perseverance: A History of African Americans in Oregon's Marion and Polk Counties


Stuckey, Melissa, Oregon Historical Quarterly


PERSEVERANCE: A HISTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN OREGON'S MARION AND POLK COUNTIES

by Sheridan McCarthy and Stanton Nelson

Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers, Salem, Oregon, 2011. Illustrations, maps, tables, index. 279 pages. $25.00 paper.

Perseverance is a brief history of African Americans in two Oregon counties from 1788 through the present. Based on research conducted by the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers (ONBP), a heritage organization based in Salem, Oregon, the completed work is clearly a labor of love by all who were involved in its production. Indeed, the ONBP has done yeoman's work in researching and collecting the scattered, fragmented, and obscure material necessary to reconstruct the lives and experiences of a group of people often overlooked in the telling of Oregon's history.

Perseverance contains biographical profiles of a number of Marion and Polk counties' African-descended pioneers, many of whom walked as slaves along the wagon trails leading to Oregon Territory. Those black pioneers managed to carve out lives for themselves in spite of the inhospitable environment in this territory (and, after 1859, state), where their presence either as slaves or as free people was not welcome. It was not until 1927 that Oregon repealed the law, written into its constitution, that forbade blacks from residing in the state. Although slavery's demise and the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U. …

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