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Black Bag Speaker Series

The Black Bag Speaker SeriesIn an effort to develop a forum for people and organizations doing work that addresses issues related to the community of Black people in Portland, the Black bag Speaker Series began in October of 2006.  We have featured many key people and organizations speaking on important issues in Portland including but not limited to former Oregon Senator Avel Gordly, Joann Hardesty from Oregon Action, Dr. Joy Leary from Portland State University (Part 1 and Part 2).  Our series has focused on the following issues: race and sustainability; slavery; police violence; segregation and gentrification; education; the Black Panthers; AIDS and health in Portland, Oregon to name a few.  Lunch is provided at these events.


For more information, contact Dr. Ethan Johnson at or 503-725-5713.






Cedric Essi - Coming Out as Family: Queer Interracial Kinship and the Closet(s) of Multiracialism

November 9, 2017
11:00 - 12:30 pm
SMSU 298
This event will be catered.

Cedric Essi is a Lecturer for American Studies at the University of Bremen. He graduated from the University of Würzburg with a Staatsexamen in English and French as well as with an M.A. in American Studies and is the recipient of the BAA Harvard Research Fellowship 2011. Currently, he is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley.


The last twenty years have witnessed the emergence of a plethora of autobiographical works that claim kinship across the color line, ranging from Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams from My Father (1995/2004) and Edward Ball’s chronicle Slaves in the Family (1998) to Natasha Trethewey’s poetry volume Native Guard (2006) and Lacey Schwartz’s documentary Little White Lie (2014). This talk subsumes these works under the umbrella term ‘interracial family memoirs’ and draws up a typology of ‘genealogies’ to categorize and interrogate which constellations are asserted as family and which are not. Along these lines, Essi will zoom in on heteronormativity as multiracialism’s “normalizing ballast” (Nyong’o) and examine the terms on which queer interracial formations have tried to ‘come out’ as family.







Black and Indigenous Food Sovereignty

June 3, 2017
2:00 - 5:00 pm
Oregon Food Bank, 7900 NE 33rd, Portland OR
This event will be catered.

Please join us for a lively discussion and festive atmosphere featuring five individuals who are uniquely situated to discuss Food Sovereignty in the Black and Indigenous communities of the Portland Metro Area and beyond.  Each of the panelists are active members and leaders regarding the issue food sovereignty.

The Carceral Life of Gender: Black Women and Convict Labor after the Civil War

March 3, 2017

12:30-1:30pm, SMSU 338

Dr. Sarah Haley, Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at UCLA will be speaking about the topic of her recent book, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (2016 University of North Carolina Press).

Tested: A film by Curtis Chin

February 13, 2017


The gap in opportunities for different races in America remains extreme. Nowhere is this more evident than our nation’s top public schools. In New York City, where blacks and Hispanics make up 70% of the city’s school-aged population, they represent less than 5% at the city’s most elite public high schools. Meanwhile Asian Americans make up as much as 73%. This documentary follows a dozen racially and socio-economically diverse 8th graders as they fight for a seat at one of these schools. Their only way in: to ace a single standardized test. Tested includes the voices of such education experts as Pedro Noguera and Diane Ravitch as it explores such issues as access to a high-quality public education, affirmative action, and the model-minority myth.

Civil Rights and Tweeting BLM in Portland, Oregon

November 15, 2016

12:00-1:30pm, PKM 150 

Erious Johnson will discuss his role as the Director of Civil Rights for the Oregon Attorney General and the legal case he has filed against his own office for surveillance of his Black Lives Matter tweets.  This event will be catered.