Black United Front Oral History Project

Interview with Avel L. Gordly

Avel Louise Gordly

Richard E. Brown took this photograph of Avel Gordly while she served in the Oregon State Senate.

"Portland's dynamic Black United Front chapter was founded in 1979 by a core group of black activists, including Ronald Herndon and Reverend John Jackson. In addition to handling media work for the group, Avel Gordly coordinated the Front’s Saturday School, whose African American history program was tied to curriculum reform in the public education system." --Oregon Encyclopedia, Avel Gordly

In 1991, a vacancy in the Oregon House of Representatives prompted a call from citizens of her Northeast Portland district to appoint Gordly to the legislature. She served three terms as state representative and was elected to the Oregon State Senate in 1996, where she served until 2009.

In this excerpt from an interview with Professor Patricia Schechter, part of a series of interviews that led to Avel Gordly's memoir Remembering the Power of Words, Gordly describes the work of Black United Front volunteers to find locations and develop curriculum for the Saturday School program, and the strong support the program received from parents and other members of the community.

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