Month: November 2008

History in the making.

A t-shirt in the window at Alladat (5824 NE MLK).

As banal as it is to remark, dramatic strides as obvious as Obama’s election to the Presidency this month don’t comprise all of what “makes history”. History proceeds primarily in small steps, in the accumulation of changes in culture and economy that provide new contexts for our lives. What follows is the complete text of an article that ran in the June 27, 1962 issue of the Oregon Mirror, a “Negro Weekly” published in Portland:

Safeway Hires Another Checker

Safeway, Inc., has hired another Negro grocery checker, in the person of Arthur Shepherd, who began work at the Lloyd Center store of N.E. Broadway.

This brings to four the number of Negro checkers currently employed by Safeway stores. Two women are working in their Union Avenue stores and another is at Interstate and Mason.

Shepherd is a graduate of Benson Polytechnic High School and has attended Lewis and Clark College and the University of Oregon. He was referred to Safeway by the Urban League.

Even accomplishing this was the result of long labor on the part of civil rights ‘activists’ – a loaded term, perhaps, to describe ordinary citizens standing up for their ‘ordinary’ rights. Here’s a photo (from the 1950′s, as labeled) of folks taking action to demand that Safeway hire black employees:

The Safeway mentioned above was likely torn down when part of the African-American neighborhood in Albina was demolished to make way for Memorial Coliseum. A further portion of the buildings in the area were lost when Emmanuel Hospital decided to expand in the late 1960′s, an expansion that never actually occured.

The FEP in the photo refers to the Oregon Fair Employment Practices Act, which was enacted in 1949. This law declared it unlawful for an employer to:

  • refuse to hire, or to discharge from unemployment, any person because of race, religion, color or national origin;
  • discriminate against an employee in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of race, religion, color or national origin;
  • ask any question in connection with prospective employment which directly or indirectly discloses race, religion, color or national origin;
  • to print or circulate any statement, advertisement, or publication which directly or indirectly expresses discrimination because of race, religion, color or national origin.

Similar provisions for nondiscrimination on the part of labor unions and employment agencies were included in the Act.

CrossFitMLK moves into the ASB building.

Wow! The American State Bank building has found a new use. ASB was bought by Albina Community Bank and eventually closed, but memories of ASB linger on. Here is a description of murals that adorned the building ; Karrin Ellertson wrote in the Portland Mercury of “the kitsch wonderland” that the inside of the building had been.

Venerable Booker opened American State Bank at the end of the sixties, as detailed in this article in the Seattle Times, making it one of the few black-owned banks in the nation.

Now, CrossFitMLK is moving into the American State Bank building (built in 1955; sold in 2007 for 2.2 million$) – opening up a fitness club.

CrossFitMLK is not owned by the same folks who own CrossFitHEL (Human Evolution Labs) at 4830 NE MLK, though they’re ‘affiliated’.