Shop with a Cop Primes 200 Low-Income Kids to Look Sharp on the First Day of School
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 20, 2014 — The 10-year-old girl held a pair of shoes up to a dress.
“Are those high-heels?” asked Deanna Wesson-Mitchell, police policy director for Mayor Charlie Hales’ office — and a mom. “Would your mother approve?”
The girl’s face broke into a giant smile.
“Let’s go find some flats,” Wesson-Mitchell said.
The policy director (and former police officer) joined Portland Police Bureau and 200 kids early Tuesday morning at the Gateway Fred Meyer store for the annual Shop with a Cop event, put on by the Izzy’s Kids program in the bureau’s Sunshine Division. For 12 years Shop with a Cop has paired low-income kids with a police officer to shop for new school clothes at Fred Meyer. Most of the children are from Boys and Girls Club of Portland and are invited based on both financial need and their volunteer efforts in the community.
“Back-to-school shopping is an American tradition, and most people take it for granted,” said Wesson-Mitchell, noting the back-to-school advertisements that become ubiquitous before fall. “When kids don’t have resources, it’s a big deal to miss out on it.
“This is a way to make sure kids go to school looking their best. And every kid should have the opportunity to go to school looking great.”
This year Fred Meyer provided $150 gift cards for each child — bolstered by discounts and coupons employees handed out.
Wesson-Mitchell’s shopper, a Scott School student and Blazers Boys and Girls Club member, was confident and knew what she liked: No pink; bold colors. She came away with seven pairs of pants, eight shirts, two pairs of shoes, a dress, and 16 pairs of socks.
“It’s great to spend time with kids who are facing a lot of obstacles, and still being successful,” Wesson-Mitchell said. “It’s a fun, rewarding way to start your day, and these kids deserve it.”
PDX Human Rights Commissioner Reflects on Death of Teen in Hometown
[The following was released Friday, Aug. 15, by Sonji Young, chair, Portland Human Rights Commission.]
PORTLAND, OR – A week ago today, Sonji Young prepared for her work day much like any other person. However, on August 9th, her life’s normalcy and peace came to a screeching halt, following the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed teen killed by an officer in the suburban St. Louis County neighborhood where she lived for 31 years.
The news of Brown’s death prompted immediate unrest in Ferguson, a short distance from where Young’s home stands today. “Michael was not just a cherished youth of our African-American community, he was and should be revered as one of America’s sons.” she somberly expressed. Young noted that the deeply rooted inequity and injustice she experienced living in St. Louis is still “alive and well”. She went on to say that “the gloom cast by racism has scourged a mourning community, bringing attention to an epidemic of disregard and exclusion of black men and women”.
As Ferguson emerges from the fifth night of protests, she anticipates calmer and more peaceful conditions. “The appointment of Captain Ron Johnson – a fellow Riverview Gardens alum and member of the Ferguson community – has given the residents a sense of relief” she stressed. Young believes that Johnson’s track record of inclusive community engagement will restore hope. “As the Brown family and community pursue justice, Captain Johnson’s demilitarized tactics will bring about calm, enabling everyone to focus on the steps”.
Young’s work as Chair of Portland’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) sheds light on the difficult, yet necessary, work that lies ahead. “Brown’s death illuminates challenges many cities - including Portland - must work together to address in partnership with the community: police accountability and the loss of trust in law enforcement”. The HRC’s Community Police Relations (CPRC) and Law Enforcement Review Committees aim to close the divide between police, policy, and the community. “Faith in our community without works is dead” Young stated. As seen in the world coverage of this tragedy, Young feels that “it will take a commitment to transparency, inter-group dialogue, and inclusion to overcome the oppression communities of color and youth are facing across the country.”
The Portland Human Rights Commission works to eliminate discrimination and bigotry, to strengthen inter-group relationships, and to foster greater understanding, inclusion, and justice for those who live, work, study, worship, travel and play in the City of Portland.
Roosevelt High Freedom Fighter Project Honors Local Civil Rights Leaders
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2014 -- Khalil Edwards’ work with the LGBTQ community started when he was a kid and his North Portland house was the safe haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, and queer youth.
Through adulthood Edwards has continued that work: He founded the PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) Portland Black Chapter — the first chapter for African-Americans in the nation; was honored as a PFLAG Queer Hero; and does racial justice and alliance-building work for Basic Rights Oregon, an advocacy group dedicated to ending discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Edwards, along with other community leaders who have worked to advance the civil rights of various races, cultures and religions, was interviewed by Roosevelt High School freshmen for their Freedom Fighter Project. The display of profiles and portraits was exhibited in City Hall last week.
Yasmin Mohamed, a Roosevelt student who interviewed leaders for the project, wrote, “I learned that when you fight for social justice you need to fight for what you believe. You shouldn’t care what people say about you.”
Mayor Charlie Hales walked through the exhibition Friday, pointing out people he knows. They were profiled for their historical social justice work, and are now involved in the mayor’s Black Male Achievement initiative to support young, black men with employment and education; supporting newcomers to Portland at Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization; and working to improve education opportunities for low-income and minority students.
“This is a really neat project for kids to connect to civil rights history,” Hales said. “And good timing, with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 this year.”
As part of the project, Roosevelt students visited the Oregon Historical Society, interviewed community civil rights leaders, and wrote about the interviewees’ experiences and their own reactions to the powerful stories. University of Portland School of Education students helped with the project, combining lessons in local history, civil liberties studies, and journalism.
“Student writing is richer and more interesting when it has a real purpose,” said Charlene Williams, Roosevelt principal, who was quoted in the exhibit. “The … Freedom Fighter Project creates opportunities to take writing out of the classroom. Writing comes alive when it is shared and has impact and influences the community in positive ways.”
Antoinette Edwards, director of the mayor’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention and Khalil Edwards’ mother, lauded the exhibit for connecting young people to their Portland past.
“In our house, when Khalil was growing up, we were very aware that we are here because our ancestors chose to survive,” Edwards said. “We said, ‘We’re here because folks paved the way for us, so how do we give back?’
“The Freedom Fighter Project connects generations, keeps history relevant,” Edwards said. “It also lets young people know that there are heroes and 'she-roes' right here today, living history. It is empowering for young folks to know that there are great people among us — everyday folks who do what they do for the right reasons.”
Mayor Joins Portland’s Somali Community for Ramadan Meal
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2014 — On Tuesday after the sun went down, Mayor Charlie Hales and First Lady Nancy Hales helped the Somali American Council of Oregon end the day’s Ramadan fast at iftar — or “break-fast.”
Council Chairman Musse Olol invited the mayor to join the ritual that closes each day during the month of Ramadan, which Muslims observe by fasting. The gathering was an opportunity for Hales to meet impressive Somali young people, such as a Portland State University graduate working on the superfund. And it gave members of the Somali community the opportunity to discuss with the mayor issues such as jobs, creating a community gathering place, and a vacant brownfield in East Portland.
“The Somali community in Portland is large, growing, and passionate about its faith, community, and supporting its young people,” Hales said. “I feel blessed to have this vibrant community in Portland.”
Hales said he felt inspired that people who had left a country struggling with political turmoil were so actively involved in their city. Olol is a member of the mayor’s Black Male Achievement steering committee, which has helped create job programs to support young, African-American men, who disproportionately experience high incarceration, dropout and unemployment rates. And the mayor’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention has a gang outreach worker involved with the Somali community, and Portland Police has participated in neighborhood trainings.
“The community felt acknowledged and appreciated,” said Antoinette Edwards, director of the Office of Youth Violence Prevention. “This was really all about shared democracy.”
One young man approached the mayor and told Hales he wanted to be a police officer.
“You can be,” Hales said, and gave the young man contact information for the mayor’s police liaison.
“It was truly illustrative of al-Qur’an passage 4:85,” Edwards said, quoting, “‘whoever recommends and helps a good cause becomes a partner therein.’”
Mayor Hales Supports Shriver Report’s ‘City-Festo’ for Women’s, Other Groups’ Empowerment
FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014 — At Happy Cup Coffee Company in City Hall one afternoon, barista Caitlin Lawson coached Keyona, 28, through the register, checking out an iced coffee order.
Happy Cup — with its coffee roasting operation and two café locations — is a program through Full Life, an organization that employs developmentally disabled adults like Keyona who want to work for minimum wage or better with benefits, job counseling, and other services. Full Life was founded 12 years ago by a woman who championed opportunities for disabled adults.
“It’s fun,” says Keyona, who has worked with Full Life for seven years. “I get to work with different people. It gives me a different outlook and perspective on life.”
The city has supported Happy Cup’s mission, helping it into the City Hall location and into a Northeast Portland space near the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct.
Such support is why Maria Shriver, founder of Shriver Report, praised Mayor Charlie Hales at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June for Portland’s progressive and innovative efforts to create an equitable city. Shriver Report is a nonprofit online platform through which women and others may share stories of progress in overcoming inequity. At the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Shriver’s organization distributed a “city-festo,” a guide to implementing policies that support families and work to empower both women and men to be successful in their cities.
In addition to existing policies and advocacy at the city, state and federal level, Hales is supporting Shriver Report’s call for city leaders to be “architects of change,” encouraging policies that support women and families through education, involvement and outreach.
“Happy Cup embodies Portland’s progressive values,” says Hales, who visits the City Hall café for coffee and salads. “We’re a city that cares for its people, and we put our progressive values into practice.”
The mayor has thrown his support behind the “city-festo” as another step in overcoming historical inequities to make the city more livable for everyone.
“Portland is a deliberately family-friendly city,” Hales says. “We’re continuing to work to make sure every resident lives in a complete neighborhood, with parks full of amenities, streets and sidewalks in good repair, and equal opportunities for successful futures.”
The “city-festo” calls for an informed community, 100 percent voter registration, and education, encouraging city officials to teach equity through leadership, policies and practices.
Hales, through diversity workshops such as White Men as Full Diversity Partners and outreach initiatives such as Black Male Achievement, has led Portland through many of the report’s 10 steps to build change.
Likewise, the city has made progress through Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s citywide paid sick leave policy; sick leave was the No. 1 policy that women who were surveyed said they needed from their city. Shriver told Hales that Portland’s policy is an exemplar for cities nationwide.
Through Black Male Achievement, Hales led community leaders in collaboratively developing programs to support young, African-American men, who disproportionately experience high incarceration, dropout and unemployment rates. SummerWorks, whose second-largest funder is the city, finds summer internships for at-risk teenagers, helping them stay on the right track. City Hall this year hired 100 interns.
Hales, through the U.S. Conference of Mayors, has advocated for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. At the state level, the city has advocated for statewide sick leave, affordable housing non-discrimination legislation, tuition equity, and for funding pilot programs to build of Portland Community College’s successful Future Connect scholarship program, which seeks to eliminate financial barriers to college. Last year the City Council passed two affordable housing policies that were key to preserving affordable housing units in Portland. One continued a tax abatement program to create an incentive for developers to build affordable housing, and another clarified that affordable housing on city property is tax-exempt.
And the city supports businesses like Happy Cup.
“Happy Cup establishes challenges that not every service job gives you,” says Lawson, the barista. “The relationships we build with Full Life clients make the job so much more fulfilling.”
ShriverReport’s “city-festo” gives the city more equity goals to pursue — 100 percent voter registration, addressing inequities across the city, empowering oftentimes marginalized populations.
“The ‘city-festo’ is a great list of goals that Portland is capable of achieving,” Hales says. “We’ve made tremendous progress over the last year-and-a-half. Now it’s time to focus our energies on making this city truly equitable for all genders, all races, all sexual orientations — all citizens.”
Diversity and Equity Workshops Prove ‘Invaluable’ for Participants
FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2014— Mayor Charlie Hales, along with 15 other high-ranking officials and members of the Police Bureau, on Thursday returned from more than 40 hours of in-depth diversity and equity workshops with a new perspective on what it means to be white men in leadership positions serving the city.
Hales noted the concentrated time shared with police and city staff — a rare occurrence that gave insight into each other’s challenges. “I’m probably the first mayor to spend three-and-a-half days talking to police,” he said. “This was money well-spent on several levels.”
White Men as Full Diversity Partners caucus attendees will have a day-long follow-up session in Portland within two months to check in and discuss how they’ve progressed toward their goals. Each man also has a partner from the sessions with whom he will meet with regularly to discuss goals.
The training is part of the mayor’s push for a more equitable and safe city. Through steps such as supporting the elimination of the criminal history section on city job applications and the SummerWorks internship program for at-risk youth, Hales has been working to change outcomes for marginalized groups. The mayor’s Black Male Achievement Initiative is an effort to grow the resources available for young, African-American men who are disproportionately affected by structural inequities.
“Inequity is endemic nationwide, as well as in Portland,” Hales said. “We can’t start to heal those disparities, to bridge those differences, until we come to grips with them. These workshops were an invaluable step in that process.”
The 16 men from the Police Bureau, mayor’s office, Commissioner Saltzman’s office, and the director of the budget office were asked to discuss their experiences. Here’s what they said:
- “Acknowledging white male privilege is not undermining the struggles that I have faced, but rather acknowledging the struggles I did not face as a result of being from the dominant group.”
- “This caucus has been an incredibly moving experience. It has helped me to see the pervasive and destructive messages directed at women, people of color, and other groups. As a white male, I truly did not understand the concept or impact of systemic advantage that I have in daily life. I was not aware that others have to navigate in the white male culture. The impact is greater empathy for those who are not me.”
- “As a white man, I have been given many privileges that are not available to others by understanding that I can better understand others.”
- “This lab has caused me to have an awakening on what privileges I have unknowingly experienced as a white male. It has also opened my eyes to the battle others have gone through just to get a sniff of what has come my way. It has caused me to look at the unintentional impacts on others and the need to explore ways to mitigate those impacts.”
- “As someone whose job is to help fix problems in our community, it was very impactful to be instructed on how to listen and consider different perspectives and validate those perspectives regardless of the feelings they may create in me.”
- “This lab has helped me to much better understand that I have a critical role and responsibility in helping to further the dialogue around equity issues and helping to create a new equitable norm.”
- “Knowing about this and knowing the paradox of, ‘I’m responsible and it is not my fault,’ grounds me for better understanding and action for change. This lab has given me some new tools to use in helping me to grow every relationship I have, both personally and professionally. Each relationship I have involves at least one white man — me — and having a much better understanding of what that means and the tools necessary to use that understanding will allow me the chance to deepen my relationships. I will be a better listener, a more understanding partner, and, inevitably, a more complete person.”
- “This lab has impacted me by making me more aware of the role I play as an American white male in relationship to communities of color, foreign nationals, women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and other minority groups. I have learned to listen better, to not react so much by trying to fix ‘the problem,’ and to be vulnerable about the emotional impact I have felt by social pressures specific to white culture.”
- “The impact this lab has had on me was the realization of how diverse we as white men are. We come from various upbringings and belief systems just like everyone else from any other diverse background, and have reached a point where I can genuinely appreciate everyone, no matter the circumstances.”
- “This lab helped me to understand the aspects of white male culture that I relate to and the aspects that I don’t. I believe this understanding will make me a more effective and credible partner for diversity and inclusion.”
- “I have learned about the micro-cuts and their impact on others and I want to be sensitive to not add to those by my comments or actions. These are complex issues I cannot fix or take complete responsibility for. I need to rest in the messiness of it all and be okay with that.”
- “I learned of small slights that affect women, people of color and the gay community that I have never had to deal with. I will use the eight leadership skills to better my family and friends, workplace and myself.”
- “This experience has helped me to find different ways to look at issues I have been thinking about for a long time. It has validated some of the choices I have made about how to relate to others and challenged other such choices. The goal is to keep privilege from being a barrier to connection with people who are different from me.”
- “Each human has value! Find it! The courage to connect your head and your heart will benefit us on this journey.”
Louisville, Ky., Mayor Joins Same-Sex Marriage Cause
DALLAS, TEXAS – Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Ky., has the fight to allow same-sex marriage.
Fischer took part in the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering this past weekend in Dallas, Texas. Also on hand was Mayor Charlie Hales of Portland.
“We had a chance to talk about Oregon legalizing same-sex marriage, and about the honor I had to marry gay couples earlier this month,” Hales said. He obtained ordination specifically in anticipation that the state Supreme Court would overturn an Oregon ban on same-sex marriage.
Fischer became one of nearly 500 members of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a project of the national group Freedom to Marry. Hales is a member.
"It is clear to me that discrimination of any form should not be tolerated and that committed gay and lesbian couples deserve the protections that only marriage can provide," Fischer said.
Nation's Mayors Speak on Black Male Achievement
TUESDAY, JUNE 10, 2014 -- Seventeen mayors and more than 200 city leaders from 37 municipalities nationwide, including Portland, came together in February in New Orleans, La., for the inaugural Cities United convening. The national movement aims to reduce the tragic number of violence-related deaths of young African American men and boys.
The following is a link to speeches given by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Portland is one of 11 cities selected by the National League of Cities to focus on Black Male Achievement.
Northwest Tribes’ Advocate Billy Frank Jr. Dies at Age 83
MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2014 – Billy Frank Jr., a longtime activist for Native American tribes of the Northwest, died Monday at age 83.
Frank, of the Nisqually Tribe, spent decades fighting to persevere the fishing rights of Native American tribes. He was first arrested while protesting at the age of 14 and was taken into custody more than 50 times thereafter. He went on to win the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1992, according to the Seattle Times.
“We ceded all this land to the United States for a contract to protect our salmon, our way of life, our culture,” Frank said in 2012. “We’re gatherers and we’re harvesters. And they forgot about us. They built their cities, they built their university. They built everything, and they forgot about us tribes.”
“We can’t overstate how long lasting his legacy will be,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday. “He pushed the state when he needed to push the state. And he reminded the state when it needed reminding. His legacy is going to be with us for generations. My grandkids are going to benefit from his work.”
President Obama praised Frank’s accomplishments. “Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago,” he said in a statement.
Urban League Career Fair Slated
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2014 – The Urban League of Portland's annual career fair is scheduled for next week.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at the Double Tree Hotel, 1000 N.E. Multnomah St., near the Lloyd Center.
This fair gives jobseekers the opportunity to meet face to face with recruiters from more than 50 employers, including representatives from corporate, professional, clerical, construction and health care industries, as well as the non-profit and government sectors.
Governing for Racial Equity Conference Opens
TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 2015 – Mayor Charlie Hales welcomes more than 400 government employees and elected officials from around the country to the Governing for Racial Equity Conference.
The event was co-hosted on Tuesday, March 25, at the Lloyd Center Doubletree Inn, by the Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oehr/article/482467
(Photo by Jeff Selby)
Central City’s Haamid Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
THURSDAY, JAN. 23, 2014 – Shaheed Haamid, who works in Central City Concern, received a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the “Keep Alive the Dream: Oh Freedom” event honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Haamid works in Central City’s Engagement Program as African-American Culturally Specific Case Manager in the Over Representation Program. The Over Representation Project seeks to assist African-American individuals who are over-represented in the country’s criminal justice system.
He received the award Monday.
Central City Concern provides affordable and supportive housing, health and recovery services, and employment services for homeless and very-low-income individuals and families.
“I appreciate the acknowledgement,” Haamid said. “It’s gratifying to know people respect what I’m doing in terms of my faith and clarifying working on behalf of the faith community and behalf of interfaith relations. Also recognizing the contributions we made to the social fabric of the African-American community in terms of education and entertainment.”
Shaheed Haamid leads Jumu’ah Services for Muslims on Fridays at the Inverness Jail and at the Multnomah County Department of Justice jails. He provides reading materials and counseling to groups requesting attendance at Jumu’ah Services.
He has also been active with KBOO radio for more than 20 years. He produces shows including “It Takes a Village” and “Blues and More.”
“We are pleased at this recognition for Shaheed,” said Ed Blackburn, Central City Concern executive director. “He has served our clients very well and has a profound understanding of the cultural aspects impacting recovery for this community.”
Portland Human Rights Commission Seeks Award Nominees
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11, 2013 – The Portland Human Rights Commission is seeking nominations for the 2013 Emily G. Gottfried Human Rights awards.
Nominations in two categories will be accepted until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25. The categories are Emerging Leader, and Outstanding Organization.
Recipients in each category will be selected based on efforts to eliminate discrimination and bigotry, to strengthen inter-group relationships and to foster greater understanding, inclusion and justice for those who live, work, study, worship, travel and play inPortland.
The commission will present the winners of the Emily G. Gottfried Human Rights awards at a luncheon on Dec. 5, in celebration of International Human Rights Day.
Celebrate Diverse Cultures at Portland Roots Festival
FRIDAY, AUG. 23, 2013 – The first annual Portland Roots Festival explores the food justice movement and celebrates the flavors of African Diaspora food culture in an urban landscape.
The event is set for noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Admission is free.
The event will highlight the food practices of African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro- Latin and African Diaspora populations of Portland. It will feature dozens of food vendors, micro-entrepreneurs, artists and performers, youth activities, and a keynote speech from Will Allen, founder and chief executive officer of Growing Power Inc. Allen is widely considered a leading authority on urban agriculture and food policy.
The festival is hosted by Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc., in celebration of their Healthy Foods Access Initiative. The organization is a nonprofit, community development corporation with a mission "to preserve, expand and manage affordable housing in the City of Portland, and to provide access to and advocacy for services to our residents."
The organization owns and manages 700 units of affordable rental housing consisting of single family homes, apartments, mixed-use and commercial properties located primarily in North and Northeast Portland.
Find out more online at:
March on Washington
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 14, 2013 -- The city of Portland will celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famed March on Washington, Saturday, Aug. 24.
The march, on Aug. 28, 1963, saw thousands of Americans standing on the steps of the nation’s capital, demanding jobs and freedom. The march helped the United States finds its way to such changes as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Portlanders will come together at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at Terry Schrunk Plaza, under the leadership of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition, the Urban League of Portland, NAACP of Portland, ACLU of Portland, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and others.
Speakers at the City Council meeting on Aug. 14 included the Rev. LeRoy Haynes of AllenTemple Community Church; Rabbi Joseph Wolf of Temple Havurah Shalom; Jo Ann Hardesty, executive director of Oregon Action and a former Oregon state representative; and Aubrey Harrison, program director, Basic Rights Oregon.
Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights
What is the strategic plan of the Office of Equity and Human Rights?
City services are administered and delivered in a way that gives all Portlanders access to the opportunities necessary to satisfy their essential needs, advance their well‐being and achieve their full potential.
The Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access and opportunity, starting with issues of race and disability.
What is Equity?
Equity is when everyone has access to the opportunities necessary to satisfy their essential needs, advance their well‐being and achieve their full potential. We have a shared fate as individuals within a community and as communities within society. All communities need the ability to shape their own present and future. Equity is both the means to healthy communities and an end that benefits us all.