BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) – The audience at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Beaverton gasped when they heard about Oregon’s history of black exclusion laws.
The Rev. William Sinkford of the First Unitarian Church of Portland spoke Sunday at Southminster Presbyterian Church.
The Oregonian reports Sinkford said the laws passed by the Territorial Legislature starting in 1844 are one reason Oregon is one of the whitest states in the country. According to Census data, 88 percent of Oregon residents identify themselves as white, compared with 78 percent nationally.
Sinkford says the exclusion laws were passed to keep black people out of Oregon in an attempt to avoid the controversy surrounding slavery. The audience gasped when he said blacks who refused to leave were to receive whippings twice a year.