At Lloyd EcoDistrict, we care about community-scale solutions for social and environmental health. We are striving to be a more equitable organization and actively prioritizing sustainable and community projects through a lens of social equity and well-being.
As we work to implement a healthier, more equitable future for the Lloyd community, we also recognize the importance of understanding the history of what has come before. This year, for Black History Month, we want to take the opportunity to share some of this history of Black communities within Lloyd—including past displacement and current initiatives to make the neighborhood a more equitable place for all.
Much of Lloyd is part of Lower Albina, where three quarters of the Portland Black community resided a century ago—in part due to its proximity to jobs at the railroad and docks, and in part due to race-based housing restrictions in other parts of the city. After World War II, Oregon started to build a state-wide freeway system and the construction of I-5 and I-84 meant the displacement of Black neighborhoods. Along with the construction of freeways, the Columbia River flooded in 1948, which forced over 16,000 residents to move—and Black Portlanders had little choice of where to move due to discriminatory real estate and banking practices. Other construction projects for urban renewal like Veterans Coliseum and the Oregon Convention Center also meant large swaths of Black homes and thriving businesses were razed and caused Black residents to move further north in the city. This trend in Portland mirrored trends across the country, where Black communities bore the brunt of property loss and relocation to make way for state-sponsored infrastructure investment.
As a result, the Black population within Lloyd plummeted: in the 1960s, more than 50% percent for the Lloyd area residential population was Black. Today, that figure is only around 5%. If you’re interested in learning more about this history, and how these past decisions still influence Lloyd today, we recommend reading Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000, from Karen Gibson, a professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, and watching the documentary Lift Ev’ry Voice from OPB.
So where does this leave us today? Recognizing this history of the neighborhood where we live, work, and play, Lloyd EcoDistrict as an organization is striving to include more Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color in our conversations of the future of Lloyd. We are working towards a more equitable, sustainable future that uplifts and prioritizes historically marginalized communities.
We also want to take the opportunity to lift up and recognize many Black-led organizations in Lloyd and across Portland already doing this important work. Please support these organizations through donations or by other means of support like signing up for their newsletter!
Here are also some great Black-owned businesses that you can support!
By better understanding the past, and more effectively uplifting the Black-led initiatives of the present—not just during Black History Month, but throughout the whole year—we hope to do our part to help create a more equitable and sustainable Lloyd for all.