New residents to Northeast Portland may not know that Williams Avenue in the 1960’s was very different than the Williams Avenue of today. In 2015 we posted an article from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. This is an update to that article.
A press release announcing a community celebration of a new art installation states that Williams Avenue “was once the vibrant heart of Portland’s Black community. Formerly known as the ‘Black Broadway,’ the corridor included a concentration of Black churches, businesses, social service organizations and nightclubs that were thriving and active community institutions.”
Although the landscape has changed, there is much to remember, celebrate and build upon. In 2012, the Williams Ave. Safety Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee recommended to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) that these stories be honored through an art history project that could be visible on the corridor. Thus, the community-led Honoring History of Williams Ave. Committee and the Historic Black Williams Project were born.
Since then, local artists Cleo Davis and Kayin Talton Davis have been collecting stories, memories and histories from Black community members. Their artwork is now complete and ready for installation. We hope that this project will serve as both a visual archive and an inspiration for future community efforts.”
This project is supported by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Regional Arts and Culture Council.