This month, the Rural Organizing Project and Oregon Humanities are proud to again offer public conversations about Oregon's history and living legacy of race, identity, and power in our communities and Oregon institutions. Presented in six rural communities, the program “Why Aren't There More Black People in Oregon? A Hidden History” is intended to provide a safe, supportive environment for community members to learn and talk about topics that can often raise complex feelings and responses.
Last weekend's event at the Cottage Grove Public Library was standing room only, bringing together seventy-five participants. When leaving the event and heading to their cars, several program participants were surveilled, harassed, and threatened with physical harm.
This is an alarming trend both organizations are seeing in our work about race across Oregon. Disruptions, threats, and acts of intimidation have been used to silence communities and shut down public conversation. And in this moment of great political polarization, we have become more committed than ever to creating spaces where people can come together despite their differences and engage in respectful, meaningful conversations about the difficult issues affecting all of our lives.
The Rural Organizing Project and Oregon Humanities believe that bringing people together to think through tough issues like race and power is a necessary part of building strong, safe, and connected communities. This is the only way to truly understand each other's perspectives and work toward finding the shared ground among them.
These public conversations offer opportunities for us to make sense of the collective challenges we and our neighbors face as we work toward solutions. ROP and OH believe that there is no room for violence or intimidation in these conversations or in our communities. Just as we seek to build safe and welcoming communities for all, so are we committed to creating a safe and welcoming space for community dialogue.
We have three more community conversations in this series scheduled for later this week in La Grande, Prineville, and Scappoose. We will continue to be inclusive in these spaces so that all participants are able to express their thoughts and views, and vigilant in ensuring that no one feels unsafe. We believe all Oregonians have the right to live and convene in peace, without threats of violence or intimidation. Our communities are stronger when we can.
We hope you will join us at one of our final tour stops, showing your support of the presenters and participants, and modeling the kind of Oregon we all deserve.
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