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.