Oregon’s original constitution included a “bill of rights” that banned black people the state.
The state used a popular vote to adopt their constitution and had separate votes on two issues. Oregon residents voted to outlaw slavery with a strong 75% majority. But an overwhelming 89% voted to ban black or any mixed race people from the state.
The laws were technically overturned by the federal government’s 14th amendment, which Oregon ratified in 1866, but then un-ratified in 1868 (largely symbolic).
We like to whitewash our history and think that segregation and racism only happened in the South, or that being anti-slavery meant people weren’t racist. Not so.
I first heard about this history at the White Privilege Conference and Gizmodo has a fascinating blog post about it.
And of course Oregon isn’t the only Northern state with a troubled racial history. The Gizmodo blog links to a story about a black family buying a home in a white, Minneapolis neighborhood in the 1930s and the riot that ensued.