Say We Are Here: Selections from the Verdell A. Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection

Culture and the Community

The Rutherford family’s community engagement went beyond their work with civic and social organizations, extending to the arts and communication.  Otto Rutherford joined the cast of the Portland Civic Theater in 1948 and remained active in the local theater scene as a member of the Portland Black Repertory Theater, whose mission, according to director and producer Rosemary Allen, was to provide “a performance outlet for artists of color.”

Otto’s daughter Charlotte, with her then husband, opened Blackfashion, Portland’s first African American-focused clothing store in 1968.  After returning to Portland State in 1974, Charlotte served as a student editor and writer for the Black Studies Program’s magazine, Ujima, a forum for articles “related to the Black experience in urban America—on and off campus, fiction, scholarly pieces, prose, profiles of interesting indigents, and news of interest . . .”   She was also the television host for the series “Black on Black,” a show featuring “Black people talking about Black people; their problems and solutions.”

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