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The City of Portland, Oregon

Neighborhood Involvement

Building inclusive, safe and livable neighborhoods and communities.

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Events

The ONI events calendar's intended use is to share information regarding community and neighborhood events of interest to the activist community. If you have an event you would like to be considered for inclusion email information about the event to oni@portlandoregon.gov


Humboldt Neighborhood Association Community Discussion: Thomas Jefferson, More Than Just a Name

North Portland Library 512 N Killingsworth St, Portland, Oregon 97217

Monday, January 29 2018, 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Summary

Join our discussion surrounding existing memorials in the community that perpetuate systemic racism and exclusion. We should get to decide what ideas or figures represent us. If relics of times passed no longer suffice, let’s tell a new story about what i

Category

Event Types > Community Events

Description

Join our discussion surrounding existing memorials in the community that perpetuate systemic racism and exclusion. We should get to decide what ideas or figures represent us. If relics of times passed no longer suffice, let’s tell a new story about what it means to be a Humboldt resident!

Let’s continue our journey, together as a community dedicated to creativity and inclusivity. If you have any input or just want to listen - we’d love to see you there!



Thomas Jefferson, More Than Just a Name

Who do we choose to memorialize in our community? What types of achievements and behavioral characteristics do we place value on? These were the very questions tackled at the most recent Humboldt Neighborhood Association (HNA) meeting, which led to riveting discussion surrounding movement to renew a motion to renew the neighborhood policy stating:

HNA General Meeting, Novemeber 15, 2012 (original motion passed) - November 8, 2017 (renewed) :

“This board is opposed, as a matter of policy, to retaining names of schools and other public institution names for former slave owners or others who did not respect equal opportunity for all.” -Clifford Walker, Humboldt resident and HNA Historian

The HNA discussion was focused on Thomas Jefferson and the local high school named after him. Many revere him as a founding father; the author of the declaration of independence and successful president. 

Many, however choose to overlook, or are uninformed of his less publicized side. Thomas Jefferson’s behaviors and writings would lead us to believe that he was a proponent of white supremacy, unopposed to forced sexual encounters (when done within the bounds of his legal rights as a property owner) and was perhaps, one of the earliest eugenicists in modern history. 

These starkly juxtaposed positions challenge us as individuals and community to seriously consider what type of people and things we choose to memorialize. Thomas Jefferson is more than just a name - it’s an idea that represents a legacy, a belief system, personal ethics, and a specific understanding of the world. 

Similar discussions are being held all around the world. From San Francisco to Oklahoma City, India to Paraguay. There is no reason Portland and the Humboldt neighborhood should not be having the same conversations. The Humboldt neighborhood, and Portland as a whole have both led the charge in forward thinking. My experiences have proven that the Humboldt neighborhood exists as a city center for creativity and inclusion. If we wish to continue this legacy - I challenge the community to think twice before willingly sending their children, and tax dollars into buildings named after individuals who promoted the use of slave labor, violence, and championed white supremacy. 

Are there alternative names we could offer our community school? Who was Thomas Jefferson? What characteristics initially made him a candidate for representing our community’s education system?

If these questions interest you or you’d like to get involved in the discussion, please join the Humboldt Neighborhood Association and other community members at 5:30 on January 29th at the North Portland Library to discover where we go from here.

https://www.facebook.com/events/166302200806190/