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A new playground area, pathways, benches, irrigation improvements, and other park amenities was added to Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park, thanks to funding from the Parks Replacement Bond and System Development Charges. Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park is located at SE 165th Ave and SE Market St.
About Verdell Burdine Rutherford
Verdell Burdine (pronounced bur-DYE-n) was born in Oklahoma in 1913 and moved with her family that same year to Oregon, who hoped to get farmland under the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. Upon arrival, they learned that Black people were prohibited from owning free land in Oregon.
In 1936, Verdell married Otto Rutherford and settled in Portland. Together, they were leaders of the Oregon chapter of the NAACP, a national civil rights organization, and oversaw one of the NAACP’s biggest victories – the passage of the Public Accommodations Act of 1953 which outlawed discrimination in public places on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.
Rutherford was also a historian of the Black community in Portland. In 2011, a decade after Verdell’s passing, her daughter, Charlotte, gifted her historical collection to Portland State University. It remains accessible for academic research and public use as desired by Verdell.
“Mom rightfully considered herself a local historian,” said Verdell’s daughter, Charlotte Rutherford. “She was that and so very much more: a beautiful woman with a kind heart and a wonderful sense of humor; a very good cook, especially her yeast rolls; and most importantly to and for me, a loving, supportive and inspirational mother. She was a hardworking volunteer and community activist who did not seek the limelight, but she would have accepted this honor humbly, knowing that this park will provide a place for the community to gather together.”
“Our parks are more important now than ever for our community during COVID-19 by providing places for play, reflection, and relaxation,” said Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. “This new park name and its improvements create a more welcoming and much-needed community space for the Centennial neighborhood. The City thanks Portland voters for overwhelmingly approving the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond, which made this project possible. I look forward to celebrating this new gem in east Portland when we can gather safely as a community.”
About the newly developed park
Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park covers nearly 8 acres in the Centennial Neighborhood at SE 167th and Market Street, just west of Patrick Lynch Elementary School. Significant park improvements were completed in Spring 2020, thanks to funding from the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond and Parks System Development Charges. Improvements include a new playground, picnic shelter, paved pathways, a Portland Loo, public art, and a renovated grass soccer field.