We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

A Force for Change

Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936

Kimberley Mangun

Publication Year: 2010

A Force for Change is the first full-length study of the life and work of one of Oregon’s most dynamic civil rights activists, Beatrice Morrow Cannady.

Between 1912 and 1936, Cannady tirelessly promoted interracial goodwill and fought segregation and discrimination. She gave hundreds of lectures to high school and college students and shared her message with radio listeners across the Pacific Northwest. She was assistant editor, and later publisher, of The Advocate, Oregon’s largest African American newspaper. Cannady was the first black woman to graduate from law school in Oregon, and the first to run for state representative. She held interracial teas in her home in Northeast Portland and protested repeated showings of the racist film The Birth of a Nation. And when the Ku Klux Klan swept into Oregon, she urged the governor to act quickly to protect black Oregonians’ right to live and work without fear. Despite these accomplishments, Beatrice Cannady fell into obscurity when she left Oregon in the late 1930s.

A Force for Change illuminates Cannady’s key role in advocating for better race relations in Oregon in the early decades of the twentieth century. It describes her encounters with the period’s leading black artists, editors, politicians, and intellectuals, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, A. Philip Randolph, Oscar De Priest, Roland Hayes, and James Weldon Johnson. It dispels the myth that African Americans played little part in Oregon’s history and it enriches our understanding of the black experience in Oregon and the civil rights movement across the country.

Published by: Oregon State University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
p. 8

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 10-13

Beatrice Morrow Cannady was one of Oregon’s most dynamic civil rights activists. Between 1912 and 1936, she gave hundreds of lectures to high school and college students about the importance of better race relations. She used the new medium of radio to share her message of interracial goodwill with listeners in the Pacific...

read more

Chapter One: From Texas to Oregon

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 14-47

In 1883, a former slave named Jackson Morrow donated a parcel of land he had been given by his owner, Christopher Hamilton McGinnis, for a new town.1 But it was not named in his honor; instead, the site eighteen miles northeast of Austin, Texas, was called Littig, for a former employee of the Houston and Central Texas Railway...

read more

Chapter Two: The Advocate: It Is Your Mouthpiece

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 48-70

Portland resident Phil Reynolds and his wife, Elise, weren’t the only ones who felt they could no longer do without the Advocate in 1927.2 That year, Lincoln High School took out a one-year subscription for its library and the Baldwin restaurant began offering...

read more

Chapter Three: The Best Talent

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 71-84

A few weeks before the noted tenor Roland Hayes performed in Portland in 1919, the Telegram noted: “With the firm purpose of establishing generally a bigger demand by her own people for classical works and to create a better relation between the two...

read more

Chapter Four: Building a Community

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 85-101

Cannady was adamant about the need to promote Portland as a vibrant, livable place, so she continually reminded people of their duty to their city and its black citizens. “When a fellow boosts his own town he does not stop there; he is performing an act that....

read more

Chapter Five: We Must Cultivate One Another

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 102-117

In February 1928, in the midst of a rainy Portland winter, Beatrice Cannady received a brief, typewritten note from NAACP Secretary James Weldon Johnson: “I am writing you as a representative woman of the race to extend to you a cordial invitation to...

read more

Chapter Six: Spreading the Word

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 118-129

Radio was an increasingly popular form of entertainment and information in Oregon, and across the United States, in the 1920s. Governmental restrictions on the use of radio waves during World War I had been lifted, and David Sarnoff’s dream of...

read more

Chapter Seven: The Birth of a Nation

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 130-146

The nation’s first full-length motion picture featured a cast of eighteen thousand people, including the rising star Lillian Gish, took eight months to complete, and by some accounts cost a reported $500,000 to make—a staggering sum for 1915.1 Although some reviewers...

read more

Chapter Eight: Oregon Was a Klan State

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 147-156

“Many speakers have come to Portland, made their impressions and gone on their journey,” Cannady wrote in the Advocate in May 1923. But none, she observed, had “made a deeper and more lasting impression for good upon the minds and hearts of the people....

read more

Chapter Nine: Standing Firm

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 157-177

Discrimination because of color was the constant that tied together years of Advocate articles and editorials and illustrated an important reality of interracial relations in Oregon during the early 1900s. Even when Beatrice Cannady was not discussing overt racism,.....

read more

Chapter Ten: In the Interest of the Race

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 178-199

In the middle of February 1919, W. E. B. Du Bois convened a Pan-African Congress in Paris. The location and timing were no accident: the Versailles Peace Conference was under way at nearby locations and Du Bois hoped to use his meeting to draw attention....

read more

Conclusion: Public Citizen

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 200-203

Portlanders were happy to shed the city’s rough-and-tumble façade in 1905 and replace it with images of “prosperity and progress.”1 That year, more than 1.5 million visitors attended the Lewis and Clark Exposition and saw a city that was set to tame its landscape...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 204-205

Soon after I “discovered” Beatrice Cannady in 2002, I read a short article about her and Seattle activist Susie Revels Cayton by Quintard Taylor, a professor of history at the University...

Notes: Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 206-299


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 300-322


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 323-353

E-ISBN-13: 9780870716201
E-ISBN-10: 0870716204
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870715808
Print-ISBN-10: 0870715801

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: illustrations
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 794698928
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Force for Change

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- Oregon -- History -- 20th century.
  • Civil rights movements -- Oregon -- History -- 20th century.
  • Cannady, Beatrice.
  • African American civil rights workers -- Oregon -- Biography.
  • Civil rights workers -- Oregon -- Biography.
  • Oregon -- Race relations.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access