PSU alumni Avel Gordly interviewed by C-SPAN’s BookTV
Author: University Communications
Posted: May 18, 2017

Distinguished alumna, author, and former state legislator Avel Gordly will be featured in July on C-SPAN’s BookTV as part of their “2017 Cities Tour.” 

Gordly’s memoir "Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator and Community Leader" (Oregon State University Press, 2011) caught the attention of producers at C-SPAN as part of their Cities Tour and American History TV (AHTV) program. The Cities Tour seeks insight into American cities’ non-fiction literary culture and rich history, especially in locations not often featured on the national scene. The Tour features historians, authors, and civic leaders, and tries to bring local heritage to a broader audience.

Born and raised in Portland, Gordly tells the story of her growing-up years and describes her numerous accomplishments in her acclaimed memoir. From 1996 to 2008, Gordly served in the Oregon State Senate, the first African American woman elected to that position in the state’s history. Before heading to Salem, Gordly earned a degree in Administration of Justice at PSU and worked for a time in the Oregon Corrections Division. Her career also included a position at the Urban League as well as with the American Friends Service Committee. In 1991 she was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Oregon Legislature, and won her seat in the 19th district outright in 1992. Gordly returned to campus in 2008 to teach in Black Studies. At that time she donated her personal papers to the PSU Library, where they are archived in the Special Collections department.

C-SPAN’s Cities Tour segment was shot on location in May at the Black Studies Department on the PSU campus, with a stop at the Millar Library, where Gordly’s personal papers are archived. “The Gordly Papers are an extremely valuable resource that document her numerous personal accomplishments as well as the workings of important local civil rights organizations,” said Cris Paschild, university archivist. “These organizations include Portlanders Organized for Southern African Freedom and the Black United Front, in which Avel played a leading role.”    

“It was a privilege to assist Avel Gordly in the organization of her personal archive and the construction of her memoir,” said Professor of History Patricia A. Schechter, Gordly’s co-author. “The book we put together based on our interviews is an outstanding accomplishment in Oregon writing and publishing.”  

C-SPAN’s program will air over the weekend of July 1-2, 2017. More information is on the Cities Tour website and on Twitter.

Photo: C-SPAN's Johnny St. Jean interviews Avel Gordly and Prof. Patricia Schechter in the Black Studies Department at PSU.