Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Basic Rights Oregon to hold Capitol rally

May 12, 2022 at 3:57pm

Learn about one of Oregon's first Black residents at Sunday lecture

The Oregon Black Pioneers memorial at Pioneer Cemetery in Salem (Courtesy/Friends of Pioneer Cemetery)

Salem residents this Sunday can learn about the life of Hiram Gorman, one of the city's first Black residents, and how he and other Black Oregonians were oppressed by local businessman and newspaper publisher Asahel Bush.

A special lecture by Zachary Stocks, executive director of Oregon Black Pioneers, about the "extraordinary life and times" of Gorman will take place Sunday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bush Barn Art Center, located at 600 Mission St. S.E. It's put on by the Salem Art Association.

Registration for the free event is available online.

Gorman was born into slavery in Missouri and separated from his mother and sister when their owner, John Thorpe, took them to Oregon in 1844.

He went on to drive wagons for Union troops during the Civil War and eventually came to Oregon as a free man in 1871, where he reunited with his family.

Gorman worked as a power press operator for the Oregon Statesman, turning the wheel by hand to get the day’s paper printed. He also earned a reputation for his well-tended garden.

Bush, for whom Bush's Pasture Park is named, founded the paper during the 1850s and used it to promote anti-Black views and build "massive public support" for the Oregon Constitution's Black exclusion clause. "Years later though, these views would be proven wrong by the emergence of a successful Black community in Salem," the event page said.

Salem’s Pioneer Cemetery in 2002 added a marker for Gorman, whose burial location is unknown, in an aisle of graves.

Stocks is a public historian and interpreter who became the first paid staff member of the Salem-based Black Pioneers in 2020.

The nonprofit has worked for more than 20 years to find historical records of Black Oregonians scattered across the state and seeks to tell a more complete story of the state's history.

A July 24, 1888 obituary for Hiram Gorman, one of Salem's early Black settlers, in the Oregon Statesman.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

May 12, 2022 at 1:20pm

City seeks help Saturday to prepare Pioneer Cemetery for Memorial Day

A historic tombstone at the Salem Pioneer Cemetery (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Volunteers are needed to help spruce up Salem's Pioneer Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day.

The city of Salem is hosting a work party Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Volunteers will clean up debris, clean headstones and weed.

The cemetery, located at the corner of Southeast Commercial Street and Southeast Hoyt Street, was founded in 1854 as the Odd Fellows Rural Cemetery and is the resting place for many of Salem's earliest settlers. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic places due to the number of significant early Oregonians buried there. The city has held the deed for the cemetery since 1986.

Preregistration for the clean-up is required. To register, contact Amanda Sitter, the city's parks volunteer coordinator, at 503-589-2197 or [email protected]

-Rachel Alexander

May 12, 2022 at 11:16am

Rally in support of trans kids planned Friday at Oregon Capitol

Counterprotestors rally in support of transgender students outside the Salem-Keizer School District Student Services Support Center on Monday, April 11, 2022 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Basic Rights Oregon, an LGBTQ advocacy group, is planning a rally in support of transgender kids Friday at the state Capitol.

The event will be from 4-6 p.m. at Oregon State Capitol Park, according to a press release.

Organizers said they were motivated by "an increase in anti-trans political rhetoric in Oregon," citing the backlash earlier this year to a new set of policies in the Salem-Keizer School District intended to support transgender students.

They also cited the recent decision by Keizer Pride organizers to cancel the June event amid fears of harassment in what would have been its second year.

"We’re coming together to show our support and love for trans kids—a frequent target of political attacks—and speak out against hate," the release said.

The rally will feature speakers including transgender young people, elected officials and political candidates.

"Trans kids don’t have a political agenda—they just want to live authentically. It’s the divisive adults in power picking on trans kids who are turning this into a political issue. Now, we’re fighting back," the release said.

Mask wearing is encouraged, and American Sign Language interpreters and accessible restrooms will be available, the release said.

-Rachel Alexander