Oregon’s history books say little to nothing about the contributions of early African American pioneers to the state’s rich heritage but with the perseverance of Salem writer Gwen Carr and members of the Oregon North West Black Pioneers this little known black history has come to life in the organization’s newly published
Carr, project manager and primary researcher, for the book “Perseverance: Black Pioneers in Marion and Polk County Early History.” will discuss the history of blacks in the community Friday, March 30, as part of the Salem City Club’s Fifth Friday program series at 5:30 p.m. in the Dye House of the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill.
This presentation will take the audience from 1788, the earliest documented instance of an African American in Oregon through the state’s early historical development in the 1800s. It will highlight stories, historical documentation and pictures of blacks in Marion and Polk counties, who lived and thrived here in spite of Oregon’s contradictory anti-slavery and anti-black laws and sentiments.
Vice Chair of the Board of the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers, a state-wide organization based in Salem, and chair of Research and Education, Carr has developed exhibits, displays, and presentations for schools, colleges, historical societies, and civic organizations honoring the lives of African Americans, who have contributed to the historical development of Oregon.
A native Californian from South Los Angeles, Carr attended college at California Lutheran University and Long Beach State University. She moved to Oregon in 1980, where she worked for over 20 years as an Information Systems Program Manager for SAIF Corporation, specializing in change management and business process improvement, retiring in 2003. Since retiring she has been able to pursue her passion of learning about and educating others about Oregon’s rich black history.
Carr has a wealth of experience on a variety of volunteer boards and organizations in the community and nationally including serving as President of the Salem NAACP in the early 80s. She served as a Board member of the Salem YWCA and was President from 2001-2004. Recently, she served as Interim Executive Director of Salem YWCA.
In addition to serving on the board of the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers, she is on the board of the Willamette Heritage Center and the Marion Historical Foundation.
Salem City Club’s Fifth Friday program series features Oregon writers and their latest books concerning subjects of interest to the community. Admission for the March 30 program is $8 per person, which includes appetizers. A no-host bar will be available and parking is free. For reservations, email email@example.com
before noon Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the hour-long program begins at 6 p.m. Carr’s book, “Perseverance,” will be available for sale at $25 each.