The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Welcome Assurance Will Be Sought by Portland NAACP
    Sometime during October, the Portland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will request assurances from Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass city officials that Negroes would be welcome in this area.
    The announcement of the impending NAACP action was made during an interview in Portland Wednesday with Mayfield K. Webb, president of the Portland branch.
    Webb said the move was planned as a result of a meeting at the Winema Hotel in Klamath Falls on Aug. 24 and 25 between representatives of the Portland and Klamath chapters of the NAACP.
Resolution Was Passed
    At a meeting a resolution was passed declaring the intent of the organization "to take action" on some "problems" in this area.
    Webb said city officials of the three cities will be notified of the resolution by mail during October, and the city councils will be urged to adopt statements during a public meeting that Negroes would be welcome to use such facilities as motels and restaurants or to become permanent residents of the communities if they should so choose.
    The chapter president, a lawyer and the father of six children, said that his group had received some complaints during the summer by Negroes who had received less than hospitable treatment in this area.
    He cited in particular a Negro family which arrived 15 minutes late to claim a reservation at an Ashland motel and were told that their reservation had been canceled.
Went into Restaurants
    Webb said that he and his family had gone into a hotel restaurant in Medford this summer to have lunch and had to wait an unusually long time before the waitress came to take their order.
    "My wife and I talked it over," Webb said, "and we decided to just sit quietly and wait it out." They were finally served.
    The lawyer hastened to say that this area was not considered a prime trouble spot in the state. He said he had received assurances that the three communities were no longer "sundown" towns.
    "We hope that is true," he said, "but we just want to be sure."
    Webb said that if any of the three cities should decline to pass a resolution that Negroes would be welcome in the community, the Portland chapter of NAACP might send some people down to "test" its motels and restaurants.
    He said he considered Portland to be the area of most concern to Negroes in the state.
    Oregon law forbids discrimination in public places because of race, creed or color.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 12, 1963, page 1

Treatment of Minorities Noted
    Medford was praised yesterday as one of the "better communities" in the state for its treatment of minority groups by the administrator of the civil rights division of the Oregon bureau of labor.
    The official, Mark A. Smith, noted, however, that "this has only come in recent years," adding "I hope you will not rest on your laurels."
    Smith was the featured speaker at a luncheon in the Jackson Hotel sponsored by the Medford Human Rights Council. Medford mayor James Dunlevy was the official host. More than 100 persons attended.
Compiles Record
    "Beginning with the Fair Employment Practices Act in 1949, the Oregon Legislature has compiled a tremendous record of civil rights legislation," Smith said.
    He pointed to such actions as the 1959 repeal of the miscegenation law and passage of the 1953 public accommodations law. Smith said there has been "no organized opposition" to civil rights measures in the state since 1949.
    He said that government involvement in the field of civil rights was a "proper role" for government, and that government's "influence must be brought to bear on problems of discrimination in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the land."
    He said there is a "mounting demand" against injustices, and that minorities are now receiving support from responsible leadership in the majority group.
    "We must not relegate anyone to unemployment or slum living," Smith said. "Any man ought to have the opportunity to rise as high as possible on his own merits."
Undergoing Change
He said social patterns are undergoing change in the Northwest. "We can create the kind of community we want," he said, "if we accord the same rights to others that we seek for ourselves."
    Smith urged community leaders to "prepare for the change," noting that "no racial violence has ever occurred where people were living together in a democratic way."
    The Rev. Robert Tull, pastor of the Community Congregational Church and president of the Medford Human Rights Council, presided over the luncheon meeting.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 13, 1963, page 1

Last revised April 3, 2010