Ashland Sunrise Project Event Seeks Sunrise Community Status for City

ASHLAND, Ore. — Aiming to create a culture of belonging in southern Oregon’s cities that have a history of racially based exclusion, the Oregon Remembrance Project is hosting a free event on Monday, February 12. Taking place at Carpenter Hall, the group hopes to give Ashland a new beginning as a Sunrise Community.

One of many cities across Oregon with a history as a sundown town, past discriminatory laws and cultural norms created an environment in Ashland of exclusion and danger for people of color. By defining the city as a Sunrise Community, the group wants to educate residents about the past and also change the future through concrete action.

After Grants Pass, Ashland’s Sunrise Project would be the second to establish a Sunrise Community in Oregon. A joint initiative of the Oregon Remembrance Project (ORP) and the Southern Oregon Historical Society, the purpose of the event is to open up the conversation about the future.

Founded in 2018 by Taylor Stewart, the ORP as an initiative memorializes Alonzo Tucker, the most widely documented African American victim of lynching in Oregon. Executive director of the ORP, Taylor Stewart is inspired by encounter with history to collaborate with the Community Remembrance Project of the Equal Justice Initiative- whose goal is to work in communities where the lynchings of African Americans took place in the past, finding healing and reconciliation through a serious reflection on history. ORP credits its inception to the work of the Equal Justice Initiative.

To shine a spotlight on the real people impacted by Ashland’s history, one of the subjects Stewart will be sharing is that of the first Black company member at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival- Patricia Norman, who experienced threats of violence as part of targeted harassment when she was cast in A Comedy of Errors in 1950.

Stewart said that they do not want to use history as a source of shame or guilt, but rather are using it as a starting point and learning opportunity to seek ways to improve the community. Because he thinks that the stories of historical injustice often make us feel powerless, he is trying to give people the belief that we all do have power over these endings.

Taking place on Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Carpenter Hall in Ashland, interested parties who want to attend the free event can RSVP by registering online.


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