The art piece depicting York, the first Black explorer to cross North America, should make all of us reflect on the invisibility and contributions of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other Oregonians of color—especially artists. These individuals have made immeasurable contributions to the city of Portland, and we must change how we, as a City, recognize our histories moving forward. BIPOC communities have directly shaped our economy, our arts and culture, and our civic leadership. They deserve long-overdue recognition.
Director Long and I, together with the team at Parks & Recreation, are committed to keeping it in place for the foreseeable future, as well as additional parks collaborations with BIPOC artists, and taking steps to ensure our city policies regarding monuments, recognitions, and parks-affiliated names reflect our commitment to a fuller, more racially inclusive history of contributions to Portland.
We should regard this installation for both the important piece that it is, as well as a much-needed reminder to city leaders to hasten our work of rooting out white supremacy in our institutions—particularly our city government, where many processes exclude community participation and discourage engagement.