NBC News recently reported that former Portland, Oregon police chief and Oakland, California native Danielle Outlaw will be the new Police Commissioner of Philadelphia. She is the first black woman to hold that position.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney addressed his new hire, according to nbcnews.com, by saying: “I am appointing Danielle Outlaw because I am convinced she has the conviction, courage and compassion needed to bring long-overdue reform to the Department,” Kenny said in a statement. “With our support, she will tackle a host of difficult issues, from racism and gender discrimination, to horrid instances of sexual assault on fellow officers.”
To further quote the article:
Kenny added that such violence often disproportionately “impact women, especially women of color within the Department.”
Beyond addressing issues within the Philadelphia Police Department, Kenny said Outlaw will also work to curtail violent crime and gun violence. The city is currently experiencing a gun violence epidemic; more people were shot in Philadelphia this year than in any other year since 2010, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Outlaw herself is quoted saying: “I am convinced there can be humanity in authority; they are not mutually exclusive.”
After a two-year process, Oregon State University President Ed Ray announced recently that he has chosen new monikers for three university buildings whose previous namesakes have ties to historical racist positions or beliefs.
OSU’s Benton Hall will become Community Hall, honoring local residents who raised funds to start the college in 1860s and 1870s; Benton Annex, the university’s women center, will become the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, after an African-American suffragette who lived in Portland in the early 20th century; and Avery Lodge will be renamed Champinefu Lodge, borrowing a word signifying “at the place of the blue elderberry” from the dialect of the local native Kalapuya Tribe.
“The names of buildings and places play a very important role in our university,” Ray said Monday in a prepared statement. “They speak to the history of OSU, the university’s values and mission, and our efforts to create an inclusive community for all. Names also recognize and honor the positive contributions of those associated with the university.”
The changes follow a push that has occurred across the country in recent years to proactively remove names and take down statues that honor people who held overtly racist views, in the name of improving race relations. Those efforts have faced blow-back from people who argue that they erase history and punish historical figures for views that were widely held during their lifetimes.
Ray decided last November that the building names associated with former Missouri U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton and Corvallis co-founder Joseph C. Avery should be stripped from the buildings, following community input and scholarly research into their positions.
An architect of the United States westward expansion and backer of the Manifest Destiny, Benton “supported federal legislation to remove Native Americans from their tribal lands and, while he was opposed to extending slavery into western states, he was not in favor of abolishing slavery elsewhere,” Ray wrote last November.
While the 1947 naming of Benton Hall was designed to honor Benton County residents, not Thomas Benton, Ray determined that the hall’s name didn’t make that distinction clear. Joseph Avery, meanwhile, pushed “views and political engagement in the 1850s to advance slavery in Oregon (that) are inconsistent with Oregon State’s values,” Ray wrote, making the 1966 name untenable.
Ray decided against renaming OSU’s Gill Coliseum and the Arnold Dining Center, however, after ruling that their namesakes, Benjamin Lee Arnold and Amory Gill, displayed some signs of forward-thinking racial acceptance, outweighing the more controversial parts of their biographies.
The new names announced Monday were chosen by Ray, after receiving input from OSU faculty, students and leaders of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon.
Champinefu, which is pronounced CHOM-pin-A-foo, was chosen because Native Americans of the Kalapuya Tribe traveled to the area around Corvallis to harvest wild blue elderberries.
Hattie Redmond, meanwhile, was part of the successful push in 1912 to give women the right to vote in Oregon, after voters previously had rejected it five times. According to the Oregon Historical Society, Redmond’s role was little known and not celebrated until 2012, when details of her biography were discovered during the centennial celebration of woman suffrage in Oregon. Redmond, the daughter of slaves, moved to Portland in 1880, in an era when the state still had a black exclusion law in its constitution. Redmond was the president of the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association during the 1912 campaign and organized meetings and educational lectures on the issue in a local church.
Cancer has long been a leading killer in the black community. One in nine African-American women in the United States will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Of those, 42 percent more are likely to die of the disease than white women.
“The disparities are shocking,” said Andrew Asato, CEO the local Komen organization.
But there’s little comparable at the a local level, something the Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation hopes to change. The group launched an initiative this week to collect data about health disparities in the black community to learn how health care providers can reduce barriers for black women to access support.
They received a grant from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program to survey the region’s demographics, breast cancer screening habits and barriers to screening and treatment.
The team will be led by Angela Owusu-Ansah, Ph.D, a professor at Concordia University in Portland. It also includes Kelvin Hall, an adjunct professor and doctoral candidate at Concordia, and D. Bora Harris, a diversity consultant.
“As an African-American person, I realize the load on people impacted by cancer,” said Hall, who has had several family members die of the disease. “There needs to be support pieces out there, because it falls on the shoulders of just a few family members.”
The team also will look at the social as well as institutional obstacles African-American women face to health care.
“In addition to health disparities within our underserved and underrepresented communities, as African American women, we have historically been taught to ‘hush’ concerning many things,” Harris said. “This tradition of silence may have negatively impacted several phases of our quality of life in respect to our health.”
Once that data is collected, the nonprofit advocacy group plans to bring a set of recommendations to public and private health care providers, hospitals and community groups to help reduce the rate at which black Portlanders die from breast cancer.
“It is time to move beyond education and do what we can to encourage action,” said Asato.
Mercer University seniors Kyle Bligen and Jaz Buckley capped off their collegiate careers as the most decorated debaters in the University’s history on March 26 by winning the 22nd annual National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) National Championship Tournament at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
NPDA is the largest debate organization in the United States, with as many as 250 schools and colleges competing each year. At nationals, Bligen and Buckley defeated more than 45 competing institutions from traditional debate powerhouses such as Notre Dame, Rice and the University of California, Berkeley.
Together, they became the first African-American team to ever win NPDA nationals, nearly three years to the day that Buckley became the first freshman and first African-American to be named top speaker at the tournament.
“Using their own unique brand of debate, Jaz Buckley and Kyle Bligen became the first African-American team to win the NPDA National Championship Tournament. Additionally, Buckley, joining only a handful of women to reach the final round, became the first African-American woman to win this national title,” said Dr. Jeannie Hunt, president of NPDA and assistant professor of communication at Northwest College.
“This is a significant achievement for me, as a woman of color, but also provides much-needed representation for other women in this activity. While both students clearly have strong argumentation skills and implement successful strategies, their ability to frame the debate with a focus on social justice allows them to use their voice for something beyond winning tournaments. I look forward to seeing great things from this team as they move through life,” Dr. Hunt said.
“This is a national victory. This year, Mercer beat Emory, we beat Georgia Tech, we defeated UC Berkeley, we beat Rice and Notre Dame and Stanford, and defeated or outranked hundreds of different colleges and universities across the entire nation. In national parliamentary debate, only one school can be the best in the entire nation – that school is Mercer University,” said Dr. Vasile Stanescu, assistant professor of communication studies and director of debate at Mercer.
“This victory is not only national, it is also historic. In the entire history of the NPDA, among the thousands of debaters who have competed, not a single all African-American team has ever won nationals. This is a ‘first’ in the history of debate, and it is a ‘first’ that will forever belong to Mercer University.”
Individually, Bligen, a politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) major from Peachtree City, was named fourth-place speaker, and Buckley, a political science and women’s and gender studies major from Columbus, was named fifth-place speaker.
Serena Williams, undoubtedly one of the most important athletes of all time, has certainly had an extraordinary year. Aside from her many professional accomplishments, the tennis player has gotten married and given birth. And now she will lend her name to something totally unexpected: a building in Nike‘s Beaverton, Oregon, world headquarters. The company announced Wednesday that four new structures will open in 2019 as part of its campus expansion. Two buildings will be named after athletes, Serena Williams and former track-and-field star Sebastian Coe, while a fitness center will be named after Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, of Duke University.
When completed, the Serena Williams building will be the largest structure at the headquarters (deserving), spanning more than 1 million square feet and nearly three city blocks. Serena, for her part, was so excited about the development that she took to Instagram to reflect on her year of major accomplishments.
She wrote, “What a year it has been. First a grand slam win followed by a awesome baby… than the most magical wedding. What next? How about a building!!… Nike announced yesterday that one of its new world headquarters buildings will be named after me. It will be the biggest on campus and is scheduled to open in 2019. I am honored and grateful! #TeamNike @nike.” Serena has been a Nike athlete since December 2003, and the company declared her “one of the greatest athletes of all time and one of the most inspiring people in sport” in their recent statement.
In 2014 Oregon State University received the African American Railroad Porter Oral History Collection. The audio recordings made between 1983 and 1992 tell the stories of Black railroad porters in Oregon in the early and mid-twentieth century.
The collection includes 29 reel-to-reel tapes of interviews conducted by filmmaker Michael Grice that were used as background for his documentary Black Families and the Railroad in Oregon and the Northwest.
Now the university has received a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to digitize the collection and create a website to feature the digitized recordings and their transcripts.