World War II brought a great wave of workers and their families from across the country to work in the shipyards of Portland, and the city’s African American population grew from 2,000 to about 22,000. Many of the newcomers came with a shared passion for rhythm-and-blues and contemporary, danceable jazz, but they had come to a very segregated city that offered few venues for black people to perform or to listen to music. In the latest episode of Oregon Experience, explore a vibrant but short-lived period of Portland history: the post-WWII eruption of music and nightlife in the North/Northeast part of town. This was a colorful and significant chapter in the city’s cultural narrative, but one that is largely unknown even to those who now live in the heart of the music scene on North Williams Avenue.
The Lewis & Clark Expedition was a pivotal moment in American history. But the story of York, a slave to William Clark from boyhood and comrade on this journey, has been obscured by omission and stereotype. Searching for York paints a portrait of this unofficial member of the Corps of Discovery as it discusses the ways in which history is written.
In the 1960s a new breed of pioneers began arriving in Oregon’s Willamette Valley determined to grow Vitis vinifera, the fine wine grapes of Europe. They were told it couldn’t be done and were amply warned that Western Oregon was too cold and wet for vinifera to flourish.
Henry William Brands was born in Oregon, went to college in California, sold cutlery across the American West, and earned graduate degrees in mathematics and history in Oregon and Texas. Currently the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin, he writes on American history and politics, with books including his newest work, "The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman on the Brink of Nuclear War."
In recognition of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which sent 120,000 Japanese Americans to incarceration camps until after the conclusion of World War II, and the second annual Minoru Yasui Day, this program offers stories of those who stood against the incarceration and the racism faced by many Japanese Americans after the war. George Nakata grew up in Portland’s Nihonmachi and was incarcerated at Minidoka as a child. In his adulthood, Mr. Nakata has become a trusted story-teller, sharing many stories of incarceration from the community. Linda Tamura will highlight some of the Hood River, Oregon, residents who supported their Japanese American neighbors in the face of aggressive discrimination they faced after the war. We will read personal letters and proclamations from Oregonians to Governor Sprague in 1941 and 1942, both advocating for and resisting the exclusion and incarceration of Oregonian Japanese Americans.
World War I marked a turning point in world and U.S. history that is far too little understood today. The United States’ formal declaration of war and entry into the Great War in April 1917 represented a seismic shift for the nation, which to that point, had attemped to avoid larger scale entanglements in European power politics and conflicts. One hundred years later we are in a position to recognize the epochal changes heralded by the First World War and the U.S.’s role in the conflict as well as its aftermath.
Few other cities in the world have water as pure and as well protected as Portland. For nearly 115 years, an ingenious, gravity-fed system has delivered mountain rainwater from an isolated river called the Bull Run. Yet the rich history of Portland’s water supply has unfolded largely unbeknownst to the people it serves.
2008 is the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today its work is still enjoyed in parks and forests around the state. Through interviews with former enrollees, and historic film and pictures, the program tells the story of the CCC in Oregon.
The Americans who opposed World War I built the largest, most diverse, and most sophisticated peace coalition up to that point in U.S. history. They came from a variety of backgrounds: wealthy and middle and working class, urban and rural, white and black, Christian and Jewish and atheist. They mounted street demonstrations and popular exhibitions, attracted prominent leaders from the labor and suffrage movements, ran peace candidates for local and federal office, and founded new organizations that endured beyond the cause. For almost three years, they helped prevent Congress from authorizing a massive increase in the size of the U.S. army—a step advocated by ex-president Theodore Roosevelt. Then many persevered, in the face of a concerted campaign by the government to silence them. Several anti-war activists founded the organization that became the ACLU to defend those whom the state prosecuted for refusing to change their minds. Soon after the end of the Great War, most Americans believed it had not been worth fighting. And when its bitter legacy led to the next world war, the warnings of these peace activists turned into a tragic prophecy—and the beginning of a surveillance state that still endures today.
Tom McCall, Oregon’s chief executive from 1967 to 1975, may go down in history as the state’s most productive governor. He was certainly the most interesting. Nearly forty years after he left office and thirty years after his death, Oregon Governor Tom McCall remains one of the state’s most renowned political figures. He envisioned a quality of environment and life unique to Oregon, and he worked relentlessly to protect those values.