Why Conferences Matter: Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers

Gwen Carr, Vice Chairperson, Research & Education Program Chairperson

Why go to the conference? Why "go local" and travel to particular places to meet people? Why? To meet people like Gwen Carr and learn about the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers, an all volunteer nonprofit organization based in Salem, Oregon dedicated to doing research and educating Oregonians about African-Americans’ contributions to Oregon’s history.

What is the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers?  According to their web site:


The Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers is an all volunteer nonprofit organization based in Salem, Oregon. It was founded in 1993 and incorporated in 1994 to do research and educate Oregonians about African-Americans’ contributions to Oregon’s history. Within the next few years, the organization developed a small resource booklet and study guide on Oregon’s black history and distributed it through the Salem-Keizer School District and Marion County Historical Society. Its original plan was to continue expanding on its research and telling the stories of these pioneers through presentations, exhibits, and books and to partner with school districts and historical organizations to distribute this information statewide.  As an organization, Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers also began fundraising events to provide college scholarships for graduating high school seniors of African-American heritage...

...The organization is now governed by an active volunteer board of directors that works with community volunteers and confers with academic consultants and historical organizations to do research, compile historical information, and present its findings through oral presentations and exhibits and in written form. The board welcomes people of all races in fulfilling its mission, and there is a board-approved nondiscrimination policy in place. People of a variety of races have served on the board and committees, and one of the goals of our strategic plan is to increase the board’s size and range of expertise.

Well-known black history expert Dr. Darrell Milner, professor of African-American history at Portland State University, serves as primary academic consultant. In addition, the organization has renewed a relationship with the Marion County Historical Society and has been collaborating with this group as well as the Polk County Historical Society in doing research, preparing presentations, publishing findings, and developing exhibits.

Kimberly Camp

After chatting with Gwen Carr for a bit, we ran into Kimberly Camp, who recently ran The Barnes Foundation as the executive director and chief executive officer after starting there in November 1998.

Now Kimberly Camp is developing The Reach: Gateway to the Hanford Reach National Monument.  The Reach is a new kind of space:

The Reach is located at Columbia Point South in Richland, Washington. For centuries people have gathered at Columbia Point…drawn by the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia rivers. The location of The Reach at Columbia Point symbolizes not only the coming together of water but of diverse communities, cultures, species, and viewpoints. The Reach is not meant to be only a building, but a Northwest institution that will endure and have a lasting impact on generations of citizens. Its purpose is to provide a place where our children and grandchildren can learn about and celebrate our big land, big rivers, and big ideas that shaped our history and will shape our future.

Prior to her important tenure at The Barnes Foundation, Ms. Camp was President of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (CHWMAAH) in Detroit, Michigan. From 1989-1994, Ms. Camp was the Director of The Experimental Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., an initiative of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Museums. Prior to that position, she was a Program Director for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, providing leadership in the operation and management of grants programs for educational institutions and non-profit arts organizations. An artist in her own right, Ms. Camp has been the honored recipient of numerous art and business awards including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Kellogg National Leadership Program Fellowship, Visiting Scholar for Tokyo Gedai University and The Spirit of Detroit. Born in Camden, New Jersey, Ms. Camp graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts and Art History. She received her Master of Science degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

It takes getting to the conference, going to Portland, being a part of WMA that you get to meet leaders like Gwen Carr and Kimberly Camp.





Awesome! I am thrilled to know about these two organizations that were completely off my radar! And I think that, beyond just highlighting why coming to conferences is so important, this post also points to why our institutions are so important--because they offer a platform (nod to Brian Ferriso) for important aspects of our shared history to be illuminated and brought to the surface of consciousness. Thank you for your valuable work, Gwen and Kimberly, and thanks for joining us all here at #wma2010!

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Just want to see if you are a robot.