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Archive's 'Black in Oregon' exhibit nets award

The exhibit chronicled the experiences of black people in the Oregon territory before Oregon joined the union and in early statehood.

COURTESY OREGON STATE ARCHIVES - A photo from the state archives exhibit 'Black in Oregon.'The National Association of Secretaries of State has awarded Oregon's State Archives a Medallion Award for "Outstanding Service to the People of Oregon," recognizing the recent exhibit "Black in Oregon, 1840-70."

The exhibit chronicled the experiences of black people in the Oregon territory before Oregon joined the union and in early statehood.

The exhibit at the state archives ended in late August, but it may be on display elsewhere in the future.

It's already traveled to a state judicial conference on the coast. Keynote speaker Adrienne Nelson, a justice on the Oregon Supreme Court, asked to have the exhibit displayed, said Reference Manager Layne Sawyer.

The state archives may donate the exhibit to the Oregon Black Pioneers, a historical association based in Salem, said president Willie Richardson.

If that goes through, Oregon Black Pioneers wants to display the exhibit publicly and bring it to other locations in the state, but it's not clear when that might happen, Richardson said.

While the exhibit is no longer displayed at the state archives, you can visit an online version.

"For the first time in Oregon history, we have unveiled an exhibit written through the eyes of black Oregonians, for the benefit of all Oregonians," Secretary of State Dennis Richardson wrote in a newsletter announcing the exhibit in February. "Why is this important? With Oregon's long history of racial inequality and prejudice, this exhibit uncovers the truth and uses the records in the Oregon State Archives. It gives voice to the brave and resilient black pioneers who overcame incredible barriers to make a life for themselves and their families in Oregon. This exhibit also seeks to challenge the rising generation of Oregonians to learn about the black pioneers, read their stories, and recognize that discrimination continues today."