I happened on the wondrous work above at the Oregon Convention Center the end of January 2022. It inspired me to publish a post for Black History month, though I wasn't sure I had enough content. Over the years my travels have touched on black lives and experiences a bit, and at last I thought I might have enough for a short post.
Next to the panel above was a labeled explanation of who and what is depicted:
1. the 25th Infantry Brigade Black Bicycle Corps
2. Beatrice Cannady, 1st black woman to practice law in OR
3. Golden West Hotel, one of the first black-owned hotels in OR
4. Richard Bogle, one of the first successful black businessmen in the NW
5. America Waldo Bogle, wife of Richard Bogle, civic leader
6. escape from slavery to the west
7. Buffalo Soldiers
8. freed slaves headed west
9-10. George Washington, founder of Centralia WA
11. Sacajawea, Lewis & Clark Expedition
12-13. Lewis & Clark
14. York, member Lewis & Clark Expedition
15. Mary Fields, Pony Express rider, stagecoach driver
16. James Becksourth, mountain man, scout, war chief of the Crow
17. slavery & plantation life
18. pioneer caravans of black settlers 1840s-1850s
19. Moses "Black" Harris, mountain man, trapper, trader, guide
20. cattle drive up the Chisholm trail (at one point 2/5 of cowboys were black)
21. Bill Picket, international rodeo star, mentor to Will Rogers
22. "Peerless" Jesse Stahl, once the best wild horse rider in the west
23. black homesteaders had to do so illegally in OR until 1926 (not allowed to own land)
I have been gathering photos and info for a "Sacajawea Trail" post for a couple years or so. Since York was on that same journey, I thought I'd use some of those to show something of what that expedition might have been like for him. A couple of interesting points were that both York and Sacajawea were invited to participate in giving their input about where to spend the winter on the Pacific Coast, and neither of them received any compensation at the end of their journey (as all the others did). No doubt the assumption was that paying Sacajawea's husband recompensed her as well, but that doesn't do for York. Here is an interesting, and I think even-handed treatment of York, a 2010 half-hour documentary by Oregon Public Broadcasting, and my 2 part post on the Sacajawea Trail:
From an End of the Oregon Trail museum exhibit about black pioneers in the PNW pictured above:
“George Washington traveled to Oregon in 1850 with James Cochran, who freed him before making the journey. After spending time in Oregon City, Cochran and Washington eventually settled near present-day Centralia [WA]. Washington cleared and fenced twelve acres, kept two dairy cows, made his own clothing, and maintained a good relation ship with his Native American neighbors. He nearly became a victim of claim jumping—two white settlers wanted his land and as Washington was African American, he had no legal claim. The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 expressly prohibited African Americans from homesteading in Oregon—he was technically a squatter. The Cochrans had not yet claimed land of their own, so they rushed to Oregon City to file a claim of 640 acres, including Washington’s farm. Cochran later sold all or a large portion to Washington for $3400. The land was at the Skookumchuck and Chehalis River juncture in Lewis Count. He built a one-room cabin and started a pole ferry on the Skookumchuck River. He Farmed, traveling twice annually to Olympia to sell his grain and saved enough to expand his land holdings. In 1872 the railroad laid tracks nearby and Washington saw his opportunity. With the help of his wife and stepson, he filed a plat for the town of Centerville, later to become Centralia in 1875. Washington turned away speculators and sold $10 lots to anyone who would live on the land. He built houses to rent to poor emigrants and refused to sell property to saloons or other disreputable businesses. Over the years he aided many families by loaning them money and seeing that they were fed. He died following a buggy accident at the age of 87 in 1905.”
“George Washington Bush, a free-born African American from Pennsylvania, was deterred by Oregon’s first exclusion law. He emigrated from Western Missouri in 1844 in the same party as John Minto. In his diary Minto noted conversations he had with Bush, who expressed concerns for how he would be treated in the Oregon country. After wintering in The Dalles, Bush headed north of the Columbia River, becoming one of the first Americans and very likely the first African American settler. He homesteaded near Olympia, which placed him out of the reach of the provisional government, as it was under the nominal control of the British. He was a successful farmer and fostered respect within his community due to his generosity towards others. Bush’s widespread support in the community became apparent when he was threatened with the loss of his land. After the state of Washington was organized as a territory in 1853, Bush’s homestead was in jeopardy—the Donation Land Act of 1850 excluded blacks from obtaining free land. Michael Simmons, his old friend from Missouri who had journeyed the Trail with him, campaigned to have Bush’s claim recognized. Fifty-five citizens signed a petition urging exemption. The appeal was endorsed by the Washington Territorial Legislature and forwarded to Congress. [The] US Congress approved a special waiver in 1855 which allowed Bush to legally claim his land. During the severe winter of 1852 grain was in very short supply. Instead of opting to sell at inflated prices, Bush said: ‘I’ll keep my grain to let my neighbors . . . have enough to live on and for seeding their fields in the spring. They have no money to pay your fancy prices and I don’t intend to see them want for anything in my power to provide them with.’”
“Louis Southworth was born in Tennessee in 1830 and was brought to Oregon from Missouri in . . . 1851 by his owner James Southworth. After settling for some time in Marysville (now Corvallis [OR]), Southworth mined gold in the Jacksonville [OR] area. He earned additional money by playing the fiddle at dancing schools. Southworth discovered that he could make just as much money performing at mining camps and saloons as he could working in the gold mines. In 1858 he purchased his freedom from his owner. As a free man Southworth worked as a blacksmith in Polk County. He became literate and operated a livery stable. After marrying, Southworth moved to Tidewater, near Waldport, where he made a homestead and later donated land for a school. He served on the school board. Southworth operated a ferry for passengers and freight along the Alsea River. He was a well-dressed man who drove ‘a fine team of black horses’. He was well-respected and treated almost as an equal. In 1915 he recalled that the one thing he couldn’t do was attend church. He had been expelled from the local Baptist congregation when members complained about his fiddle playing. ‘So I told them to keep me in the church with my fiddle if they could, but to turn me out if they must, for I could not think of parting with the fiddle. But somehow I hope it’s written in the big book up yonder where they aren’t so particular about fiddles.’—Louis Southworth”
“Abner Hunt Francis . . . was targeted with an expulsion order. He and his brother O.B. were free African Americans who had opened a mercantile store in downtown Portland in 1851 on the corner of Front and Stark streets. Abner was a well-known abolitionist, having been an anti-slavery activist in Buffalo, New York before moving to Portland. He was friend to Frederick Douglass, and his background caused concern among Portland’s anti-black community members. It is likely his new store caused unwanted competition. A justice of the peace ordered Francis, who had been charged with violating the Exclusion Law, to leave Oregon within six months. The order was upheld by Oregon’s Territorial Supreme Court and the time limit was reduced to four months. In spite of a petition signed by 211 sympathetic Portland residents to allow an exemption, the legislature tabled the request and never revisited it. The Francis’ continued to reside in Portland until they voluntarily immigrated to Victoria BC in 1860 where Abner was later elected the city’s first black city councilman.”
“Moses ‘Black’ Harris was thought to have come West in 1823. As a skilled trapper and explorer, he gained a reputation of being an expert at winter travel. As the fur trade began to decline, he used his skills to act as a guide for missionaries and wagon trains. In 1836 Harris helped guide the Whitmans and Reverned Henry Spalding to the Oregon Country. In 1844 he led a wagon train of around 500 people over the Oregon Trail, including George Washingtn Bush and the Holmes family. In 1845 Harris rode to the rescue of the Stephen Hall Meek wagon train. Meek [led] his party through ynmapped parts of the Oregon’s high desert. He rode ahead when he stumbled on familiar terrain and rode ahead to The Dalles for help. Harris was the only man willing to lend a hand andundertook the rescue effort himself. He secured supplies from local native tribes and brought them by pack horses. Harris met Meek some thirty miles south of The Dalles. He also later saved a group on the Applegate Trail and helped explore the Cascade Mountains in search of an alternative to the Barlow Road. Harris continued acting as a guide until dying of cholera in 1849.”
Fort Nisqually gift shop & museum, Tacoma WA
Following are fabulous finds from a trip to Fort Nisqually mid August 2022.
Another fascinating story, that of a black woman pioneer of southern Oregon:
The photo on the left below is from a presentation at Fort Vancouver WA. Naturally, I thought it not appropriate to appropriate all his visuals. I don't have as many photos for the next phase of black history in the Pacific Northwest, but the following links show and tell something about the black experience in the western US during the 1800s.
“I am also entitled to be recognized: The Life and Journey of Moses Williams”
Lecture at Fort Vancouver WA, Feb 29, 2020; see
Oregon State Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205, across from the Portland Art Museum by Kaleena Fraga
"5 Stops on Your Oregon Coast Black History Road Trip” by Zachary Stocks of Oregon Black Pioneers
"Inequity: A Summary of Discrimination in Oregon and the South Coast” Coos History Museum 1st Tues Talk—July 15, 2020 . . . a panel discussion. “Black Americans and Oregon” by Taylor Stewart starts at about 26 min
Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St, Vancouver, WA 98660
April of 2022 we finally made it to the Clark County Historical Museum. I was extremely gratified to find along the front sidewalk a colorful and illustrated timeline of Black History for the county, which made it at the same time more local and personal, and was perhaps to some extent a mirror of the wider story of Blacks in America. Photos follow.
After having donated most of my children's books to a good cause, I haven't resisted starting to collect more. I love kids' books. Through books we can travel along others' life journeys, their lives enrich our own, and through them our aspirations can take wings. Many good movies have been made about black people's experiences and about black heroes. I noticed some interesting titles at the public library, too, as I was pulling things together for my Learning Lab website https://www.learninglab.site/.
US Stamps over the years celebrating Black contributions to our nation
I wanted to learn more about and experience a Kwanzaa celebration. In 2019 I found that there's an annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Multnomah County Library--North Portland on Killingsworth and Commercial Ave, so I betook myself to participate. Not all blacks celebrate Kwanzaa, of course, but I think it speaks to the basic principles and values of the black community. Below are some photos from that. Lots of specialty restaurants and food carts are in the area--some African or Caribbean. The Cascade campus of Portland Community College is across the street, which seems to focus a great deal on black history in the US.
Portland Art Museum--1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205
We were so crushed for time that we didn't get to see everything Feb 2022, but hopefully there will be another chance with more time. Youth 17 and under are free. I would figure a half day. Below are some of the works by black artists that were on display when we were there. Following are links to more black artists I didn't get to see in person.
Oregon Historical Society Museum--1200 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205
Across the way from the Portland Art Museum is the Oregon Historical Society, including a museum. You can pay for street parking or nearby pay-to-park lots. Their permanent collection is on the third floor. You can also find online resources at their website:
A search for “black history” on their website produced 1124 items, perhaps some more useful than others.
One incident that caught my attention from Portland's history is the Vanport Flood of 1948. Following are some of many links:
“Vanport Flood: Oregon’s Second Largest City that Vanished in a Day” by Tyler Willford, includes a 1 hr videoArticle by Michael N. McGregorArticle with photos “Vanport Flood begins on Columbia River on May 30, 1948” by Jennifer Ott1.5 page pdf “The Vanport Flood” by Michael McGregor
OMSI Space Science Hall, taken 1 Sept 2022--Portland OR
With our world's interconnected communications & media, the Pacific Northwest shares in the wider US experience.
Washington History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma WA
I visited the Washington History Museum the end of May 2022, and happened on the exhibit called "The Negro Motorist Greenbook", that ran from Mar 19-June 12 that year. Before I got to that exhibit I saw some pertinent displays in the permanent exhibit "Washington: My Home". Later, as I was exploring the parks along Ruston Way, I saw an interpretive sign in Judge Jack Tanner Park that seemed befitting.
More links about blacks in the Pacific Northwest
A Timeline of Black History in the Pacific Northwest
View of Seattle from Ursula Judkins Viewpoint, Magnolia (north of Seattle). About a mile south of Seattle on I-5 is an exceptional view of the city as you come north, but I couldn't take photos during drive time, of course. Those who have more time to explore could find other photogenic views, no doubt!
Alaskan Way/the Waterfront
A favorite Seattle activity is to walk/bike/roll the paved path along the waterfront as far as you can toward Pier 91, where the cruise ships dock. (via Washington Waterfront Trail & Elliott Bay Trail—it’s about 4 mi from Seattle Aquarium to Elliott Bay Marina see https://www.traillink.com/trail/elliott-bay-trail-(terminal-91-bike-path)/ ). Don’t forget to figure time and energy required to return. If it’s a nice day, there are marvelous views of the Olympic Mountains on the peninsula across Puget Sound.
Pier 62 Park near Seattle Aquarium is a deck/plaza on the waterfront with views & bistro tables, part of the paved waterfront trails, whose south end is not far from Pacific Science CtrOlympic Sculpture Park, about a mile north of Seattle Art Museum, with which it is affiliated.
It's free, and has buildings and parking garage. The Broad St side is a steep hill. is not far by car, just up the hill from Olympic Sculpture Park.
It was mostly closed, but its website has virtual programs
Pike Place Market
I was so grateful for the "Public Market Center Parking" garage on Western Ave, which afforded me affordable parking, with a voucher ticket, and though it can be confusing trying to navigate the various levels and elevators when bound to a wheelchair, it was a lot easier than without such helps. Several restaurants appealed to the palate, lots of fresh fish & seafood, as well as a variety of other options. Because it was still Chinese New Year, I wanted to eat Chinese at least once. But the restaurant I saw was down a steep incline, and it was not easy to find my way to the elevators to the lower level and back again. I had to ask for directions a lot, and not everyone knew the answers.
Some notable places I found downtown
Pioneer Square Park--100 Yesler Way (1st Ave & Yesler) . . . more of a triangle than a square
I stayed at Courtyard by Marriott--612 2nd Ave--at the corner of 2nd & Cherry (Cherry is a steep uphill, and both 2nd & Cherry are one-way). Just south of Cherry on 2nd is the loading/valet parking zone in what might appear to be a lane of traffic. There's a two-way bike lane on the curb side. Because my van ramp would put me in traffic, the valets and hotel security officer kept a watch so that I wouldn't get run over exiting or entering my accessible van. Valet parking was $45/night, but parking yourself was $35. Because I felt insecure about finding and being able to manage wheeling the streets, I gritted my teeth and was glad enough for the valets, who were very helpful.
Woodland Park Zoo
Beside the Zoo, Woodland Park has various other sports & recreational opportunities. See links below. I was happy to find that the zoo is mostly flat, though I was glad enough to have a motor, and there are some places where a person in a wheelchair needs that extra power. Figure at least a half day to enjoy this great place.
While on the north end, some other interesting places to go are
Part of my plan was to check out Seattle's Chinatown during the 2-weeks Chinese New Year. But I used up my wheelchair battery at the zoo and hadn't learned how to recharge it from my van yet, so I was disappointed not to be able to get out in Chinatown. That might have been providential, because being unfamiliar with the geography, I could cover more ground and waste less time & energy by exploring by car for my first time.
Chinatown/International District--Gate is at 5th Ave & King St (King St is interrupted by Union Station et al)https://www.wingluke.org/ Kobe Terrace Park & Danny Woo Community Garden—650 S Main St (between Main & Washington)
I happened onto this interesting park as I was wandering about by car. From the website: it offers views of the mountains and the bay; picnic, playground, spray park, plaza, basketball, soccer.
Museum of Flight, Boeing Field
"The Museum of Flight is the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world!" Obviously I had a hard time narrowing down from the over 200 photos I took.
SeaMar Museum of Chicano/Latino Culture
Wish List for the future:
Frye Art Museum https://www.fryemuseum.org/
Argosy Cruises https://www.argosycruises.com/
WA state ferry to Bainbridge or another island https://wsdot.wa.gov/travel/washington-state-ferries
Victoria or San Juan Clipper https://www.clippervacations.com/
U of Washington, Burke Museum of Natural History https://www.burkemuseum.org/
Washington Park Arboretum https://botanicgardens.uw.edu/washington-park-arboretum/
Seattle Japanese Garden (temp closed) https://www.seattlejapanesegarden.org/
Interlaken Park https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/interlaken-park
Seattle Asian Art Museum https://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/asian-art-museum
MOHAI Museum of History and Industry https://mohai.org/
The Center for Wooden Boats (southern tip of Lake Union) https://www.cwb.org/
Discovery Park & West Point Lighthouse
Alki Point Lighthouse https://lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=112
Hamilton Viewpoint Park https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/hamilton-viewpoint-park
Lincoln Park https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/lincoln-park
Essential Seattle Museums
Chinese New Year 2022, began Feb 1 & ended Feb 15 (Lantern Festival)
2022 the Year of the Tiger
My tiger travels through a few years.
Chinese New Year Celebration at Washington Square Mall, Portland OR--5 Feb 2022
Washington Square Mall
Chinese New Year at Vancouver Mall (USA)--2017 had to be postponed 'til March (due to weather)
82nd Ave & the Jade District, Portland OR
Since I had already been to Portland's Chinatown for a previous New Year, and had just discovered all the Chinese (& other Asian) venues along 82nd Ave, I wanted to explore some more there for Chinese New Year 2022. Eastport Plaza is along that way, Portland Community College SE campus is close, on Division St, and so is Portland Nursery, a bit east.
More about the Jade District:
Chinatown, Seattle WA 2022
Lunar New Year celebrations were postponed 'til Apr 30, and I was fortunate to be able to go back to Seattle to see them, as well as more of the waterfront (more about that in a 2nd post about Seattle). The day began cool and wet (I had to use my umbrella and set out seeking something like a lap quilt for my legs), but the weather took an auspicious turn, the sun came out, and I even had to dig my sun lotion out of my all purpose purse. I had time to do a little exploring of the vicinity, and was very glad to have an electric wheelchair to give me more mileage than I could have managed manually. For more photos of Seattle Chinatown scroll down at
My own little Lantern Festival for the end of Chinese New Year 2022
Traditional Chinese Music
Shen Yun Portland OR--March 2022 Keller Auditorium
I have wanted to go see Shen Yun for years, and over 2 years ago I bought tickets. But the show was postponed twice due to COVID restrictions ☹. At last the day arrived, fortune shined upon me so that the predicted rain cleared and in the end it was a very pretty day. I tried to leave enough time for traffic and to find parking, but some streets were blocked with barricades and the MAX (transit train) blocked one intersection as the time was ticking away. I had checked for some nearby parking, and as it turned out, I got a place in the closest parking garage: Auditorium Park, diagonally across from Keller Auditorium. Naturally, after the show I wanted to have a Chinese dinner, and within a couple blocks I had found August Moon Restaurant. I imagine the Shen Yun performances have brought them good fortune, too. Because next day was 1st Day of Spring, I just had to get Asparagus & (spring) Chicken. I ordered Spring Lamb Szechuan Style to take for the day following. The meats were tender, the vegetables tender-crisp. Loved the chicken dish, the other was a bit (soy) saucy for my taste.
Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland OR
We went to see Lan Su Chinese Garden fall of 2019, I returned to gather more about Chinatown there, and we went to the Chinese New Year celebration in 2020. But I didn't use nearly as many photos as I do now, so I'm including some more here. For more info about Portland's Chinatown, see my updated
Portland Art Museum--Chinese artifact exhibits
Late February 2022 we went to see various exhibits at the Portland Art Museum, among which was a limited collection of ancient Asian art. We found a handicapped parking space open on the street right in front of the museum. Across the way is the Oregon Historical Society Museum, which I have yet to find opportunity to visit. They do offer some online exhibits as well as their print publications. https://www.ohs.org/museum/exhibits/index.cfm
Chinese in Lewiston ID
In early March 2022 I traveled to Lewiston ID in pursuit of Sacajawea's Trail, and unexpectedly, happily happened on the Chinese exhibits at the Center for Arts and History in downtown Lewiston. At the same time they were hosting contemporary artists celebrating women, and one of them was of Chinese heritage. I loved these exhibits, was inspired to try one of the Chinese restaurants in Lewiston, the Mandarin Pine. Loved that experience as well.
Memorials of Chinese Americans in Tacoma WA
I saw an exhibit or two about Chinese American experiences at the Washington State History Museum, but moreso at the Chinese Reconciliation Park on Ruston Way.
Washington History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma WA
I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.