Micco T. Harjo and Oregon’s first equal access bill


369th National Guard Regiment (a.k.a. Harlem Hellfighters), 1919, photo by Paul Thompson
Source: The New York Public Library Digital Collections


Between 370,000 and 400,000 Black Americans served in World War I; about 770 gave their lives.

Some were in segregated brigades that fought alongside French brigades, experiencing an acceptance and appreciation they’d never felt back home. The war experience in general sparked in Blacks a new resolve to secure, at last, their equal rights in the United States.

Out of this upwelling of new confidence and determination, Oregon’s first equal access bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in February 1919. The timing seemed good since the 1918 election had created an overwhelmingly Republican legislature and soldiers were still returning home from overseas.

How does this relate to Montavilla other than in a general way? Well, one of only three Portlanders allowed to speak on behalf of the bill in the House was Micco T. Harjo (1882 / 1885 – 1947), a Black Native American resident of Montavilla.


Portland’s Afro-American League conceived of the law to guarantee equal access to hotels, theaters and other public places regardless of race. Multnomah Representative John B. Coffey (1867 – 1926), a progressive Irish Catholic recently re-elected to the House, agreed to sponsor it. He introduced H. B. 344 on February 3, 1919.

Representative John B. Coffey, Multnomah County
Source: Oregon Voter: Magazine of Citizenship, January 4, 1919 (Google Book)

The bill went to the House Health and Public Morals Committee for review. On February 12, an imposing six-foot tall Harjo argued in favor of passage.

Perhaps he was chosen to speak because of his patriotic contributions. The 1930 United States Census identified him as a veteran of the Spanish-American War of 1898.

In 1918, he registered for the draft and contributed to the war effort as a metal worker for the Grant Smith Porter company, which produced much-needed cargo ships.

Two other prominent Portlanders spoke in support of H. B. 344: Beatrice Cannady (1889 – 1974), co-publisher of The Advocate— then Portland’s major Black newspaper, a co-founder of the Portland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and a frequent public speaker; and Rev. W. Isaac Rowan (b. 1875), a former pastor of Portland’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The press, which closely followed the controversial bill, did not report what Harjo, Cannady, and Rowan said. But whatever they argued, words were not enough to convince a majority of white committee members.

The committee passed it back to the full House without a favorable or unfavorable recommendation.

“Race Question Is Up to House”
Source: Oregon Statesman, February 20, 1919 (Historic Oregon Newspapers)

In the House, someone moved to postpone the bill indefinitely, a way to kill it. Debate erupted. Proponents argued it deserved passage because of the considerable Black contribution to the war effort. Opponents said the bill was unnecessary, existing laws were sufficient.

Multnomah County Representative D. C. Lewis tried to avoid voting by hiding in a committee room. He had to be dragged to the chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms. “Vaudeville” is how The Oregon Statesman described Lewis’ escapade.

With a roll call vote, H. B. 344 failed 31 to 24. The Multnomah County delegation, which represented the majority of Oregon’s Black population, voted 9 to 4 in favor, with Rep. Lewis among the nays.

Harjo, E. D. Cannady (husband of Beatrice Cannady), and other executive committee members of the People’s Civic League (formerly the Afro-American League) felt betrayed. They had thought Rep. Lewis was a “true and tried friend of the race” (Oregon Journal, February 24, 1919). And with good reason. Lewis had introduced two bills in 1917 that would repeal laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages. (The laws would not be repealed until 1951.)

The failure of such a seemingly simple and fair request shows the difficulty in achieving civil rights in Oregon, and that era’s climate of increasing racial tension.

And that tension sparked conflicts; one of the most egregious of these was the summer of racial violence that came to be called “the Red Summer”.

Between April and November 1919, at least 25 major riots occurred across the country (although not in Portland). Blacks were attacked, and this time they fought back. Damages and injuries were huge in many cities. 83 people were lynched (seven whites and 76 Blacks, even Black veterans in uniform).

The NAACP gained about 100,000 new members in 1919.

In 1921, one of the worst incidents in racial violence took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Black neighborhood, with, again, tremendous loss of lives and property.

About the same time the re-emergent Ku Klux Klan was expanding throughout the country— with 100,000 members by 1921. A Portland branch was established in 1921 and tried recruit new members by with a film purporting to “tell the truth” about the Klan. According to the Sunday Oregonian of December 28 thousands flocked to the Municipal Auditorium for the film.

In this conflicted environment, the re-energized campaign for civil rights moved forward in Portland as elsewhere.

In 1920, the newly created Associated Negro Press promoted a national drive for justice. Its press release urging local events was carried in newspapers across the country.

The drive would launch on September 22, Emancipation Day, a holiday commemorating this date in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved people.

Portland’s People’s Civic and Political Club, of which Harjo was president, organized an Emancipation Day event to be held at the AME Zion Church. The meeting included several well-know speakers, beginning with Harjo.

Among these were Rev. J. W. Anderson on “A Minister’s Political Duty” and Cannady on why Blacks should support Republican presidential candidate Warren G. Harding, an advocate of civil rights. (In his 1920 acceptance speech as the Republican candidate, Harding lauded the sacrifices of Black soldiers and said Blacks deserved “their full measure of citizenship”.

“Colored People’s Meeting”
Source: Oregon Daily Journal, September 22, 1920 (Historic Oregon Newspapers)

After this 1920 event, I found no further evidence of Harjo’s direct involvement in civil rights work. Perhaps he stepped back to a secondary role or perhaps personal circumstances intervened.

But in 1919 and 1920, he stepped up to make a difference in a fraught and often hostile society.

In my next article, I will explore the life of Harjo and how his early life in Indian Territory may help us understand some of the motivations behind his civil rights activism.


Historical story ideas? Questions about Montavilla’s past? Also share a love for neighborhood history? 

Comment on the article at the link in the heading. Or you can reach out to Pat Sanders at pat.montavilla.history@gmail.com.

Read all of the “Montavilla Memories” articles by Pat Sanders here.

This weekend

With COVID-19 raging in Portland, we can’t meet in person as much— but community building is still happening.

Gov. Kate Brown has added further restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus. Willamette Week reports here.

“As of Nov. 18, bars and restaurants will be take-out only. Store capacity will be limited and gyms and other indoor spaces closed.”


Reflecting on some of this week’s happenings, this just in from one of our network affiliates Pandemic Duck News!:


And though it pales in comparison to alleged issues in other states, a resignation of an election official in Oregon spotlights some serious problems with our voting and unemployment systems: dinosaur-era software.


Though the dust is still settling around the November 4th election, the library ballot initiative promises to have big impacts on East Portland. Learn more from their notice below.


We love our contributors, and expect some big things happening soon. Including a new story from Patricia Sanders, who will be telling the story of Black soldiers returning from World War I, and their continued fight for freedom at home in the United States.


As part of Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon‘s East Portland Arts & Literary Festival, organizers are inviting community members to meet their newly-chosen artists in residence: Sabina Haque, Cary Miga, Roshani Thakore, Nikki Acevedo, Myra Aldan, and Felecia Graham.

Continue reading “This weekend”

This weekend


From your friends at Life in the Village


It’s a bigger city than some know… and it’s easy to find ignore problems in neighborhood some have only seen on a map.

There’s been a plague of gun violence in East Portland, and in this East PDX News article, a closer look is taken at several of the most recent incidents.


Like I said before, it’s great to connect with a new media creator, but it’s next level to meet an editor that brings a team of brilliant folks with them.

That’s the situation with Rose City Residential— a group of “ragtag team of local journalists, academics, and urban policy nerds who want to redefine what makes a home here in Portland for those who have been historically underrepresented, including low-income renters, queer folks, people of color, and the Black community.”

The inaugural article was from Julianna Robidoux, the group’s organizer. It’s about her story, and what brought her to tackle this difficult issue. Read it here.


Though the election is on everyone’s minds, it is past time for folks to mail your ballots. You can also get a ballot printed, even on election day. Learn more here.

But you can walk it in… all libraries are a safe ballot drop-off spot.

And speaking of elections, this is just in from Jen Travis and Pandemic Duck News….

She’s super prolific and political, but here’s one that we can all get behind. Do right by your voters, or you’ll be sent home.

Viva la revolution… at the ballot box. 🗳

She set up this peace symbol of candles in front of Portland City Hall for folks to take home. Gotta love her creative activism. Follow her @jen3taft on Twitter.



Happy Halloween everyone!

Here’s a family-friendly parade in Roseway:


Continue reading “This weekend”

What makes a home?

What influenced me to gather a group of radical idealists to work on creating an inclusive Portland


I believe in the radical notion that housing is a human right, and that everyone deserves a place to call home no matter their social class or background.

Since I moved to Portland in 2013, the cost of housing has increased and the impact of gentrification has spread. The socioeconomic implications of this led me to write my honors senior thesis on the experience of the Eastern African immigrant population here. All of this has led me to my current project— Rose City Residential— a media project about housing issues in Portland.

I’m a young professional from the East Coast living in Portland. I’ll admit I’m part of the reason its population has steadily increased, and as a result, so many luxury high rises and often harmful urban renewal projects fill the landscape.

Photo by Julianna Robidoux

Going door-to-door as an enumerator for the 2020 Census underscored the disparity of the quality of housing available to people based on their incomes. I’ve been to affordable housing units where absentee landlords have neglected to maintain the property for their own objectives, forcing their tenants out onto the street.

I’ve been to 26-story luxury high-rises that have so many empty units it’s truly mind-boggling how we could simultaneously have such a high houseless population.

With the defunding of Section 8 over the last several decades and recent cuts to other public housing programs— not to mention the impact of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic— affordable housing is in higher demand and less accessible than ever.

The concept of home

What comes to mind when you hear the word “home”? By definition, the term is pretty broad. Merriam-Webster offers six definitions for the noun including: “one’s place of residence”, “the social unit formed by a family living together”, “a familiar or usual setting: congenial environment”, and “a place of origin”.

For a long time the term “homeless” was used to describe anyone without an official address to call their own. Now, the more PC term is “houseless”, because, as Kimberly Hunt puts it in a blog post on the non-profit, Do Good Multnomah’s website, “ … a house is just a place. It is simply a physical space that they currently do not have”.

Continue reading “What makes a home?”

Come Thru market celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day


Photos by Julianna Robidoux

Come Thru Black & Indigenous Market took place on Oct. 12 at the Redd East Event Space (831 SE Salmon St.), with musical performances to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Raceme Farm Collective and Black Food Sovereignty Council & Coalition organized the event that featured performances by vendors including song and drumming by 7 Waters Canoe Family and drumming by Black Futures Farm; Aztec dance by Yankuik Ohtli; a performance by Kiki House of Flora; and a music set by DJ Gila River Monster.

While the market has been a bi-weekly occurrence, happening every other Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 – p.m. throughout the summer, it will switch to monthly as the weather cools down.

The next Come Thru market will take place on November 9. at the same location.

Below are some of the vendors who were at the event along with information about their businesses:

Niedente Healing Collective

Photo by Julianna Robidoux

Tula Sabes, founder of Niedente Healing Collective, took advantage of the market to connect with the community.

According to the collective’s Instagram page, “Niedente is culture made up of African spirituality, numerology, and many other pro-black practices that benefit the wholeness of oneself.” Niedente offers customers healing sessions, crystals, reiki classes, and healing sabbaticals.

You can find her business page on Instagram @_niedente_ with a link to her online shop.

Urban Orange

Photo by Julianna Robidoux

Nichole Champion, owner of Urban Orange, shared a tent with Sabes. She said while growing up she always wanted to be a fashion designer, and was so determined she even settled on the name for her future business, Urban Orange, at the age of 12.

She made her debut at the market on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, offering hand-crocheted scrunchies, ear warmers, fingerless gloves and purses just in time for the cool fall weather.

Happiness Family Farm

Photo by Julianna Robidoux

Chanel Igiraneza and Rosata Niyonzima operated a booth for Happiness Family Farm, which boasts culturally diverse vegetables grown locally and sustainably.

Continue reading “Come Thru market celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day”

This weekend

The race to be mayor of Portland is on. Challenger Sarah Innarone is in the lead by 11 points, according to a poll by released earlier this week. If you missed the debate Thursday night between Mayor Ted Wheeler and her, you can watch it here.

The run-off for a Portand City Council seat between incumbent Chloe Eudaly and Mingus Mapps was held on Friday. Watch the replay at the Portland Tribune‘s website here.

In Oregon, you can register online. The last day to register to vote in the November 4th election is October 13.

Read about all the ballot initiatives on the November 4th ballot here.


Fall fun is fun:


Keep an eye out for the Montavilla Mini-Farm‘s open hours. It’s a really cool venture that brings fresh food to the city.

We did a short film on the farm a few years back, as part of our enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, community, and urban gardens:



Live jazz:

At Montavilla’s jazz and wine hot spot, Neil Mattson & Shao Way Wu will be playing outside— and the weather looks like it will be fantastic.

Vino Veritas, 7835 SE Stark St * 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. * free

Continue reading “This weekend”

My journey from social justice protester to independent journalist


Balancing a passion for social justice and equality as well as the commitment to bring honest and unbiased stories to the public can be a challenging task.

My path to becoming a freelance journalist without experience or formal education has been quite the adventure, and has convinced me to pursue journalism as a career.

The beginning

I have been leading a double life. By day I run a small business. By night, I suit up for war-like conditions and film police and protesters going head-to-head. Juggling all of these responsibilities hasn’t been easy, but the experience has been fulfilling in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.

Getting to this point has been a truly strange and exciting journey. A fervor for equality led me to protest, but it was a thirst for knowledge and truth that led me to journalism. I started down a rabbit hole when I began filming, not knowing where or what it would lead to.

My Journey started at the end of May, after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Like many other people, I watched with horror as Floyd struggled for and lost his life on camera. I was struck by the unnecessary and brutal treatment he received as a result of institutional racism and militaristic police tactics.

I felt compelled to do something about it. This feeling grew into a burning desire to go out and protest— even though I’d never marched, chanted, or waved a sign for a cause in my life.

After a couple of weeks of daily protesting, I started to keep a video and photo journal of the events I was witnessing. More and more, I saw this documentation becoming a way to record important events occurring at the protests that weren’t getting fair representation in mainstream media.

I took a video journalism class in high school and have dabbled in photography where I have enjoyed capturing intense and beautiful moments in life. However, livestreaming was something I had never done before May 2020.

When it became apparent that people were interested in watching my live videos in June, I made it my mission to film as often as I could so viewers could see what was happening with the Portland protests.

A 30-second video of a fire doesn’t tell a complete story. Many people watching from home wanted to make up their own minds about the protests that were happening in their cities, rather than solely listen to what mainstream media was telling them. So, I equipped myself with ballistic gear and set out with my new gimbal.

A chaotic scene

My first experience with the police declaring an unlawful assembly over the LRAD (long-range acoustic device) was on June 26, 2020.

I started the night off at the Multnomah County Justice Center where arguments were happening between groups. I was trying to decide whether I should go home or not when someone in my livestream comments let me know that I was needed to document at Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct.


This weekend


It’s great to see so much momentum behind this venture that is Village Portland. So many smart, involved, big-hearted neighbors are stepping up to tell their stories. (It took a while for folks to get it, but we won’t get into that.)

There are some great new stories and folks coming soon, and here’s one I’m very proud to share. If you haven’t seen it, Patricia Sanders‘ article about Shiloh Baptist, Montavilla‘s first Black church, is excellent.

Her story makes history come alive, and you can really empathize with all the hard work it took to make that church a reality. Hopefully, the hard work by Ida Thompson and church leaders inspires us all to better community service.


Wanting to get out of town for a late-season road trip? Reggie and Paula did too… but they don’t always feel safe out in the world. The latest episode of Life in the Village:


Outer Powell Blvd. upgrades:

Upgrades to Powell Bou between SE 122nd and SE 136th Avenues are finished, and you can visit the stations virtually here. At the link, you can also sign up for updates and learn what to do if your property is to be impacted.

The next phase will stretch from SE 99th to SE 122nd Avenues, and SE 136th Avenue to the Portland / Gresham border just east of SE 174th Avenue.

Offer feedback on the project here.



“AshMob Strolling Brass Band will appear and stroll down SE 80th from Burnside to Stark with a concert in front of Montavilla Station. No Cover charge~Tips appreciated… “

Montavilla Station, * 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. * tips


Dumpster cleanup (invitation):

“Hey everyone, we have a big “dumpster” clean-up coming up — this means you can skip a run to the dump and save yourself some money if you have large trash / recycling items that you need to get rid of! It’s completely FREE to the community!”

Visit the link in the heading for more details.

Mt. Scott Churchm 10603 SE Henderson St. * 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. * free


House plant sale (invitation):

“Join us this weekend for a pop up houseplant sale! 2 days of 12+ sellers. There will be plant, plant supplies, macrame and crafts. 100% outdoor. Masks required and social distancing recommendations apply.”

1816 SE Marion St. * Sat. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. & Sun. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Farmers markets: 

Expect fall favorites as well as late summer bounty at both of these excellent farmers markets.

Learn about Montavilla Farmers Market is vendors here.

7700 block of SE Stark St * 10 am – 2 pm


At Lents International Farmers Market you can “double up” your SNAP benefits. Read more about the market and that program here.

SE 92nd & Reedway, between Foster Rd & Harold St * 9 am – 2 pm


Enjoy your weekend!

This weekend

It seems we traded smoke for rain, and somehow lost summertime weather in the bargain. But the fall is always beautiful here, and brings new opportunities…


Apple tasting:

The excellent apple tasting event at Portland Nursery won’t be happening this year, but you can still visit to taste apples and get 99-cent deals! Learn more here.

9000 SE Division St * September & October


Here’s a great, inspiring comic from Pandemic Duck:


Housing help:

On a Facebook group, a helpful neighbor in Lents pointed out this opportunity for folks in that area about long-term housing.

The Portland Housing Bureau is offering a no-interest loans of up to $40,000 for repairs, and the Down Payment Assistance Loan is designed to help, “first-time homebuyers purchase a home in Portland’s Interstate Corridor and Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Areas.”


Farm fest:

Zenger Farm is having their Harvest online this year. There’ll be two events: one early for the youth and another happy hour later on.

Learn about their work, participate in seed saving, make a healing syrup, and many more activities— all to celebrate their 20 years of service to the community!

Read more here.

Online * 11 am – noon & 4 pm – 5:30 pm


As a positive counter to a Right wing rally planned for this weekend, Brown Hope and NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon are raising money during “Black Joy Weekend” to give to Black identified Portlanders.

Read more here in the Portland Mercury, including how to participate.


Farmers markets:

And just like every Sunday during season, East Portland’s excellent farmers markets are open:

The Montavilla Farmers Market is every Sunday, learn more about their vendors for this week’s market here.

7700 block of SE Stark St * 10 am – 2 pm


Lents International Farmers Market is also Sunday!

Learn more about the market here, including how to “double up” your SNAP benefits.

SE 92nd & Reedway, between Foster Rd & Harold St * 9 am – 2 pm


Be safe out there and do your best to find your joy this weekend.

Shiloh Baptist, Montavilla’s first Black church


Photograph of the Montavilla Mission congregation, 1916
Source: The Sunday Oregonian, July 30, 1916 (Historic Oregon Newspapers)

I love stories. Stories are how we make sense of the world. Since I began researching Montavilla history about two years ago, I feel like the stories of this neighborhood have been revealing themselves a layer at a time, in all their diversity and complexity.

Most recently my research on Montavilla’s Black community has added yet another layer. It’s a layer so complex and so rich that it’s really several stories.

To me, it makes sense to begin with Shiloh Baptist Church, since for over 40 years it was a center of the community’s spiritual, cultural, and social life.

Before there was Shiloh Baptist in Montavilla, there was Montavilla Mission, founded in 1916. A photo and short article in The Sunday Oregonian of July 30, 1916 credits recently-license preacher, George Gardner (1880 – 1937) and Mrs. Ida “Thomas” [Thompson] (1872 – 1960) with starting this Church which met at East 79th Avenue and Stark Streets.

In the photograph above, Rev. Gardner stands proudly in the center of his flock, but it’s difficult to say which of the women might be 44-year-old Ida Thompson. The congregation around Rev. Gardner seems to be the majority of Montavilla’s Black population at the time.

Continue reading “Shiloh Baptist, Montavilla’s first Black church”