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Portland Children’s Museum School Explores Portland’s Local Black History

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

One of the reasons we invested in a partnership with the Portland Children’s Museum is because of our strong alignment with their goal to develop culturally-responsive learning as part of the organization’s equity journey. Helping with this is a focus of our capacity-building work, so we want to feature PCM’s Opal Charter School as it explores Black History Month through the lens of empathy and compassion.

One parent shared reflections on a recent learning experience, which can serve as a powerful reminder for all of us working toward a more equitable Portland:

“My daughter’s class studied the Vanport flood and the changes to the Albina neighborhood…a thriving Black neighborhood that had I-5 run through it and several acres of homes razed to put in the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Interestingly, it’s where our family lives, so we learned about our own role as white gentrifiers, which was disturbing and important.

Related reading:
History of Racist Planning in Portland

“Some third grade classes around the city study Portland’s bridges, but Opal School approaches local history quite differently. My daughter explored Chinese exclusion laws, the Vanport floods, and the displacement of a thriving Black neighborhood in what was known as Albina…my neighborhood, my daughter’s neighborhood.

“Not only was this study hyper-local but it was hyper-personal.

“Not comfortable content for a third grader and her family and not easy content to parse out and digest, but incredibly important content for residents of a city with a complicated racial past and present.”

Read more on the Portland Children’s Museum website:
Historical Empathy: Taking Heart

The SVP Partnership finds itself on a similar equity journey — learning history, uncovering truths about power and injustice, and facing difficult questions. Only by moving outside the comfort zone of our privilege can we make meaningful progress towards our commitment to become an anti-racist organization.

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