A Credit to their RACE
The past few weeks have been an inspiration to me looking back at the many battles for equity and inclusion in the construction industry and the present/future explosion of opportunities in Portland, I felt like the biblical Job, knowing that God would eventually bring us through. The battle is not ours, It’s the LORD’S.
More than a week ago, thanks to Angela Hill with support from the new Soul Restoration Center we celebrated the 81st birthday of O.B. Hill and Gloria McMurtry. At the event, I tried to explain that O.B. and Gloria were more than just the founders of Reflections Coffee/Book store and promoters of Portland’s black renaissance culture. O.B. and Gloria are icons of the struggle and promise black people face everywhere. They dared to fight in the trenches while others reaped the benefit of their constant pressure demanding economic opportunity for black people in Portland. In the late 80s and early 90s, they protested the exclusion of black contractors and workers on the expansion of I-84 (known as the Banfield). They held ODOT’s feet to fire at every opportunity. They were part of the lawsuit against TRI-Met protesting the use of a “Front” minority company from Colorado Tri-Met proposed to use to build the Hillsboro light rail. Tri-Met finally realized the evil of their ways and provided significant opportunities for blacks on the Interstate light rail. Their advocacy extended to the Convention Center, the Rose-Garden Coliseum project, and many more.
You can see their efforts as the foundation and building blocks of what we see today with the large-scale success of Black Contractors achieving leading roles in the building of the expansion of the Rose Quarter I-5 projects, partnership in the remodeling of the Convention Center, key positions in the remodeling of Portland Public School projects and low-income housing projects.
Likely, O.B. and Gloria will never get the respect and appreciation they deserve, but God knows and history will record, that they are an absolute true credit to their Race. And because they have paved the way, our children will have a smoother economic road to travel. We owe them a lot.
In with “The Future:”