A recent public announcement by the Benton County Board of Commissioners reads “In the weeks since George Floyd lost his life, communities across the nation are coming together in protest to give voice to the centuries of inequality, exploitation and abuse suffered by Black and African American people in our country. The demands for change cannot go unanswered.”
To get involved locally, here’s a look at Black Lives Matter events happening over this weekend and into next week in Corvallis.
Friday, June 19
Corvallis Educators’ Black Lives Matter Rally, 4-5 p.m.
All supporters of racial justice are welcome to the Corvallis Educators’ Black Lives Matter Rally, taking place at the Benton County Courthouse on Friday, Juneteenth (June 19) from 4-5 p.m.
As the final event of the 2019-2020 school year, it will focus on the voices of students and staff. Guests are asked to wear masks and practice safe, social distancing. The event is family friendly, and attendees are encouraged to shop or grab a bite downtown afterward in support of local businesses.
RSVP or find more details on the Facebook event post.
Saturday, June 20
Speak Justice Then Peace, 3-6 p.m.
Also happening at the Corvallis Courthouse, this free public event will offer “a chance to learn just what exactly is going on with the injustices of today’s government, how those injustices trickle down to affect their communities, and what [people] can do to help set up a better future,” according to organizer Briae Lewis.
Unaffiliated with any official organizations, Lewis and her co-organizer hope to draw speakers from the NAACP Corvallis/Portland Chapter, The Civil Liberties Defense Center, and the Oregon Justice Resource Center. The event will last two to three hours starting at 3 p.m. with speakers having roughly 30 minutes each, and an audience Q&A to follow.
Corvallis Anti-Racism Workshop, 5-7 p.m.
Local drag group Haus of Dharma welcomes white community members to their third installment of Corvallis Anti-Racism Workshops. The workshop is titled “What Does Emotion Have to Do With It: Addressing the Human Scale of Our Societal Crisis.”
The event description reads, “Racism and violence are not only built into our societal institutions, they are embedded into the fibers of our individual and collective nervous systems. Fears and beliefs are trained into the subconscious mind and often shape our interactions before we realize it.”
Further recognizing that emotional intelligence is not part of the American education system, the workshop is intended to help attendees “slow down and connect with some often neglected puzzle pieces of humanity, while cultivating reflective tools to help us dismantle bias, increase the resilience of our empathy, and prevent misaligned action.”
The event will held online via Zoom from 5-7 p.m., and will be hosted by Haus of Dharma’s Mx. Chevious Al (aka Alana S. Kenagy). The session will be recorded and posted online for public viewing. Attendees can use the meeting ID: 839 8425 4041. Anyone with questions or concerns can contact Dharma Mirza at email@example.com.
To RSVP or for more details, visit the Facebook event post.
Tuesday, June 23
Legacies of White Oppression, Dialogue for Justice and Equality, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Bringing people together that work at the frontlines of current racial tensions, The Corvallis Advocate’s next free livestream CitySpeak event draws at the heart of the current moment from a variety of vantage points.
– Artist Anne Mavor, who is currently exhibiting “I am my White Ancestors” at The Arts Center. Through thirteen life-size photographic self-portraits, Mavor explores her family’s history of race, class, colonization, and genocide. The ancestors, real and imagined, span over 2000 years from the Celtic Iron Age to present-day Portland, Oregon. The repeated faces illustrate beliefs being passed down through the generations. Audio diaries reveal the historical events and traumas that shaped each ancestor and caused them to act out oppressive behaviors. With the current pandemic, viewings are by appointment only.
– Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson, who was elected in November 2008 as the first Latino in Oregon to serve as a district attorney. Recognized by the Oregon Crime Victims Assistance Network and the Oregon Humane Society for excellence in prosecution, Haroldson has distinguished himself as a prosecutor. He serves as adjunct faculty for Willamette University School of Law and the National College of District Attorneys.
– Corvallis/Albany NAACP President Angel Harris, who has been instrumental in the passage of Corvallis’ anti-bias initiative. Harris has not only codified the increased incidence of hate in the community generally, but quite specifically in area schools. A Corvallis resident for 25 years, Harris is also a registered nurse.
– Oregon Department of Justice, Director of Civil Rights Fay Stetz-Waters. Tasked with assuring the Oregon Department of Justice is equitable and accessible for all the state’s citizens, Stetz-Waters works directly with Oregon’s Attorney General. Stetz-Waters’ offers a down-to-earth view of race, bias, and policing.
– Professor Randy Blazak, Ph.D. Blazak’s scholarship on hate crimes and hate groups has made him a regular commentator for media outlets from NPR and CNN to BBC and Al Jazeera. His work has taken him from classrooms to criminal trials. His research has been published in academic journals, books, and in the mainstream press. Since 2002, he has been the chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes and has worked with the National Institute of Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center on hate crime research issues.
– Corvallis Police Chief Jon Sassaman has also been added to this panel. Sassaman has been with the department for over 30 years, and been its chief since 2012. During his tenure as chief, the department earned its CALEA accreditation – a rigorous process that demands that a department meet best practices as a community entity.
Slated for Tuesday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m., this forum will be featured on The Corvallis Advocate website and Facebook page. Questions can be submitted before or during to firstname.lastname@example.org, or on livestream Facebook post.
View the full statement from the Benton County Board of Commissioners here. If we’ve missed an event, please let us know.
By Stevie Beisswanger