Giants

             Giants 

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Deeply Saddened

I am deeply saddened by recent news of the death of Harry Alford, founder of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. I was equally saddened by the death of his wife Kay just a few months earlier. I wish I could convey to the black community the magnitude of this loss and its adverse impact on the black business community. Harry and Kay were giants and visionaries in the area of black business development. I did not always agree with their political alignment, but overall, you could not argue with their fearless advocacy for black businesses.

Harry was in Portland a few years back exploring the development of a Black Chamber. Many years ago, I attempted to stand up a chapter in Portland but found it too overwhelming.  I could not finalize the action due to the founding of the National Association of Minority Contractors local chapter during that same period. Tinkering with the development of a black business chamber has persisted ever since the days of the National Business League formation in the early seventies. In Portland, unscrupulous black people liked this concept and have tried to exploit it over the decades.  In recent days we have had some precarious attempts to put together a black chamber chapter. Unfortunately, it is proposed by unscrupulous individuals destined to fail. You can tell the economic viability and health of a black community by the prominence or the lack thereof of a thriving Black Business Chamber. So, what’s Black Portland’s Economic health status?

RIP Harry and Kay

Black Pioneer In Oregon Celebrates Birthday

Black Oregon Pioneer Celebrates 78th birthday

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I wish someone would tell the story of how hard life has been for black people just trying to make a living and exist in Oregon/Northwest. Today is Alvin Hall’s 78 birthday and I want to share that he and his Company ‘Rock and Road Construction” are the oldest black dump trucking firm in Oregon. Long story short, they are the forerunners of most of the work done by black dump trucking firms in Oregon. They embraced me when I tried to enter the industry 30 years ago. They tried to teach me and show me the ropes but I was hard-headed and it took a long time to learn. I love these guys because they epitomize the American dream, “Work Hard and God will bless you”. It did not always work out that way but it was beautiful dreaming despite the nightmares encountered by the racist systems blocking us. Alvin and his brother L.B. Anderson (now deceased) rescued me. I almost lost life trying to a unload a haul when this old Mack dump bed broke and crashed on the incline at this Troutdale I -84 interchange construction. Alvin was there to help me.

But the story is that Alvin had his 78th  birthday today and we should all celebrate because he loves the black community and is truly a black pioneer with a heart of Gold.

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Georgia on my Mind

Georgia On My Mind.

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I am beginning to love the of state of Georgia. All my life I’ve thought of the South as a foreign country hostile to black people. My folk is originally from Mississippi and I never heard anything good from them about that state or the surrounding states. But in the last year or so I began to change my opinion specifically about Georgia. If you think about it, Georgia saved our beacon in the last election. And it had to be a bunch of rednecks who saw how ridiculously crazy Trump was and couldn’t stand it anymore. Fast forward to today’s Ahmaud Arbery verdicts and again, a mostly white jury rescues the country from racist insanity. Southern white people in Georgia are Heroes, re-establishing some sense of justice. They get my applause and application. Thank God for decent, fair-minded white people, especially those in the South. The discernment is not universal, less we forget Rittenhouse and Wisconsin.

Pastor Hennessee Steps Up.

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Pastor Hennessee Steps Up

I am so glad one of our acknowledged community leaders is stepping up to support common-sense measures to improve the safety and liveability of Portland. Thanks, Rev. Hennessee.  Those who consider themselves leaders and are now slilent are contributing to the problem. We must immediately knock down those insane ideas of defunding the police and give Ted Wheeler the ability to show a backbone. He needs to and stop trying to act like he is mending the fence after letting all horses out the gate. Again, try to heal the damage JoAnn Hardesty has caused and make sure there is broad-based community oversight.

Portland is now a spooky, dirty and unsafe city on Halloween 2021

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Portland is now a spooky, dirty and unsafe city on Halloween 2021

I’m not a Halloween guy but since it’s Halloween I want to tell you why I’m scared.  Look around Portland you can see how bad things have gotten and this is enough to make anybody scared. It’s spooky that the City is in such a mess. I can’t help but think about what Daryl Turner said, something like “this town has turned into a cesspool”. I have to agree with him. I just wanted everybody to know it doesn’t have to be this way. I hold all these public elected officials responsible at all levels.
I just returned from Indianapolis, my home town and never in my life would I have predicted I would say that Naptown is a cleaner, better ran city than Stumptown. It is truly a tale of two cities and Indy wins hands down.
I don’t want to criticize without trying to do something about it. That’s why I support the Coalition Black Men with their graffiti abatement program and have joined People for Portland’s effort to hold elected officials accountable for their lack of leadership.
The big thing is, I am going to work hard to get JoAnn Hardesty removed from office. I will work just as hard to get her out as I did to help her get elected. She is a problem and not a solution. I made a big mistake supporting her.

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Portland is sick:

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Billy Webb Elks will Rebound

This is our place

The fire at Billy Webb Elks last week brought sad thoughts about how fragile black institutions and organizations continue to be. It is not the first time I have witnessed a boarded-up Elks (see before 2008 remodel). The truth is that many of us have recognized it is and continues to be one of the few black-owned and led properties and organizations of any size in Oregon. So, it is sad to watch this incident after so many well-meaning, community-mined people of all races worked so hard to build up this property and organization. But let’s be clear, black people are absolutely resilient and they may be down, but don’t count us out.
Since its remodel by NAMC-Oregon (the National Association of Minority Contractors) in 2008 the building has served multiple community purposes. It has been the go-to place for all kinds of community events focused on making the community a better place to live and inspiring us to live a better life. This summer it became a popular place for a Street Market and Pop Up Entrepreneurs. It was beautiful watching the young people do their thing and the building being used as an instrument for black progress. Let’s get busy and help them get back up and running again soon.

Reflections

Sometimes we take for granted those who make a difference in our community. I had a brief opportunity to show my appreciation to O.B. Hill at his 80th birthday celebration this past weekend. We are friends and I have collaborated with him in several community organizations and events. He truly is a unique individual with multiple talents.  Among his talents is his ability to capture, chart, and display historical black events in Portland. We lost the display part when the Reflections Coffee/Book store closed several years ago.  But O.B. at 80 continues to capture and chart Portland’s history through a black community lens. Check him out because he is a real Portland treasure.

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Forty Acres and a Mule

 

My summary of the AVT Juneteenth zoom event is as follows:

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Yesterday I sat in on the Albina Vision Trust (AVT) Juneteenth zoom, which was an effective theatrical production. The star of the show was Rukalyah and was directed by Steven Green and Cupid Alexander. They played the Avel Gordly (for who I have always had high respect) tribute to full effect and preached high rhetoric about the virtues of the Albina Vision. I could not help to think that many of these same individuals signed on to the disgraced former NAACP president E.D. Mondaine’s agenda and went down that rabbit hole with his vision and leadership. Rukalyah waxed eloquently about flying high on the wings of a dove to bring the black community back together again.

And as I listen to talk about this utopian vision described as blue skies and bliss on the top of the highway covers, I kept thinking; these are the same folks who can’t keep our streets clean, stop the scaring and trashing of our highway corridors, stop the encroachment of the homeless camps, arrest the graffiti criminals destroying property everyday, close the education achievement gap, and keep our police force from being in a state of chaos and stop gun violence. Yet, they would have all of us believe that they can execute a plan to make black people whole. They are the ones envisioning a promised land for black people on top of a heavily traveled highway. I kept thinking I do not need to rain on this parade about Juneteenth and the national holiday but I am not feeling free. White people are going to continue to commercialize this event like they have done the MLK holiday and black people will still be broke-ass poor and begging. Just give me my 40 acres and mule and stop the BS.

A new twist in AVT’s mantra revealed in this meeting was the advent of a world-class workforce incorporated in the Vision. I guess this was a way to throw a bone to the black contractors and blue-collar opposition to the Vision. I guess some one realized that there is the question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. It has dawned on somebody that their perceived utopia cannot be sustained without the inhabitants having the ability to pay the rent. However, they continue to mislead the community about the consequences of a delay in the process. They continue to attribute this to mischief by ODOT attempting to divide the black community and ODOT seeking to deny black people access to stolen land.

Finally, it was tragic to hear Earl Blumenauer admitting that black people pay more in gas taxes and contribute more to the carbon foot print than whites. Yet he knows this is taxation without representation and has watched for decades billions of dollars flow into Oregon’s economy and black people receive next to zero economic benefits. His hypocrisy and those who collaborate with him are breathtaking. Albert Lee knows what I am talking about.

I was thinking as I listened to these folks, what universe do they live in? Living down the street from Dawson Park keeps me grounded and I could not hear what the AVT zoom presenters were saying, because I can see what they do.

Happy Father’s day to the ultimate Father who art in Heaven.

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