Highlights from the Gates Collection of African American History and Culture
The Urban League of Portland
Thousands of African-Americans migrated to the Portland area during World War II to work in the Kaiser Shipyards. Following the war, city officials sought the assistance of the National Urban League to relocate these “temporary” residents out of state. The League, originally established in 1910 to assist African-Americans arriving in New York to secure housing and job training, worked throughout the country to help migrants adjust to new urban settings. Refusing the city’s request, the League instead established a local chapter, the Urban League of Portland, in 1945.
As in many urban centers, residential housing was strictly segregated in Portland. Although not legally sanctioned, a restrictive covenant confined African-Americans to certain neighborhoods within Portland and the Portland Realty Board did not allow members to sell property in white neighborhoods to non-Caucasians. This publication compiles and publishes the results of two studies, challenging the most frequent reason given for this discrimination: that renting or selling to non-whites lowered property values.