Ed White, Founder and past Director of River City Drum Corps, board member of the Portland Museum
Meet Ed: In my retirement I can pursue connecting to my roots and researching the African American presence in Portland. My family traces our Portland roots back to the early 1900s, during a time when Jim Crow was alive and well and the neighborhood was segregated by race and economics. These circumstances caused people to be mean and hateful to each other, and this hate was passed down to the Black Community with large doses of slurs and territorial defense—everyone had a place and be sure you know where it is! But the strength of the African American community in Portland was the foundation that empowered its families to live and prosper. At the turn of the last century, African American families in Portland numbered in the hundreds, but now most of us have moved on and abandoned the neighborhood. I am collecting the stories, photographs, and genealogies from the handful of elders who are still with us and sharing them as a homecoming for their descendants through a community exhibit and oral history interviews at the Portland Museum. The process has rekindled memories and energies that remind me of days sitting listening to elders talk, and it is also empowering members of younger generations to find interest in Portland’s African American history and heritage.
Ed’s Community History Project: Roots on the River: The Black Presence in Portland
On October 1, 2022, Ed White debuted an exhibit Roots on the River: The Black Presence in Portland at the Portland Museum. This project explores, documents, and shares the rich history of Black families, institutions, and organizations in Louisville’s Portland Neighborhood.
Ed’s project did not end with this installation! His work of compiling Black Portland’s history continues in research, collecting historic materials, and in a new series of oral history interviews within the neighborhood.
These photos were taken at the exhibition opening of Roots on the River during the Portland Museum’s Art and Heritage Fest.