Milwaukie celebrates its African American history
Milwaukie Historical Society members have organized a free presentation on the city's African American past and present for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at Ledding Library.
"Our knowledgeable, charismatic and entertaining guest speakers will elaborate on Milwaukie's black history and their experiences," said historical society spokesperson Greg Hemer.
About the speakers:
Former Portland City Planner Kim Moreland, a board member of the Oregon Black Pioneers since 2007, said she was working on a supplement for the city's Albina Community Plan when she became interested in going deeper into the history of African Americans in the region.
Salem-based Oregon Black Pioneers is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1993 to do research and educate Oregonians about African American contributions to Oregon's history. Within the next few years, the organization developed a small resource booklet and study guide on Oregon's black history.
"Even if it's just an old story, it could give us some clues about a building still standing," Moreland said.
Since 2020 is the 100th anniversary of nationwide women's suffrage, Oregon Black Pioneers is commemorating the event by helping collect information on places associated with helping win the right to vote. These may be residences, businesses, social gathering spaces, sites for suffrage and women's rights efforts, burial sites, campuses, etc.
In 2019, Libra Forde was appointed, then elected to the North Clackamas School Board, becoming the first African American woman to hold such a position. She is the chief operating officer for social service nonprofit agency Self Enhancement Inc., which provides culturally specific services for underrepresented youth and families in the Portland area.
Forde has earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. A certified life coach, she was Toastmasters International speech champion in 2014 for Hawaii and in 2015 for Oregon.
Forde also is a member of the board of directors for Oregon City-based Children's Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping investigate and prevent child-abuse cases in Clackamas County.
Forde, upon being sworn into the school board, said she brought her own educational experience encountering economic disparity as a student from a low-income family in New York City public schools.
"I think I represent a large portion of our school district and one that's often forgotten," she said.
DOROTHY and HURTIS HADLEY
From 1977-85, Hurtis Mixon Hadley Sr. and Dorothy Bishop Butler Hadley ran Milwaukie's first black-owned business and Oregon's first black-owned bakery.
The couple who opened Milwaukie Pastry Kitchen again made history with an exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society in 2014. In 1967, Hurtis became the first African American in Oregon to become state certified as a journeyman baker.
After completing his apprenticeship, Hurtis was the first African American in Oregon to be promoted to bakery manager at Albertsons. Despite his credentials and success training store directors and bakers, Hurtis was passed over for a district-manager position and was told "southern Oregon communities will not accept a black man in this position of authority."
After they purchased Milwaukie Pastry Kitchen, at 10607 S.E. Main St., Hurtis handled the baking of cakes, pastries, breads and doughnuts, while Dorothy ran the front counter and handled sales. They said they never planned to make history with the store's opening, but rather sought the location out of economic necessity.
After the closure of Milwaukie Pastry Kitchen, Dorothy published and sold a run of 1,000 cookbooks titled "Honi's Favorite Desserts and Brunches Too: Recipes to Laugh About." Hurtis continued on as a baker and bakery trainer at Safeway, then as a mixer at Franz Bakery and Orowheat before retiring in 1997.
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