Despite new laws banning discrimination in housing and employment, the legacy of racism and prejudice persisted in practice.

“I thought if you went north and west, you’d get out from under all that discrimination, but it didn’t happen.”

 – Mattie Reynolds, reflecting on her arrival to Eugene
(The Register-Guard by Annie Williams)

All across the U.S., urban renewal and redevelopment projects forced low-income people and minorities from their homes. Eugene was no different. In 1949, the Ferry Street Settlement was demolished to make way for the Ferry Street Bridge. The tight-knit Black community was scattered, but not unmade. Through it all, they took care of each other.


Robert and Deloris Reynolds carry water back to their home. The West 11th settlement lacked running water and was prone to flooding from Amazon Creek.

A Place to Stay

Eugene’s hotels continued to shut their doors to Black travelers, even after Oregon’s 1953 Public Accomodations Act prohibited discrimination based on race. Once again, Eugene’s Black community stepped in to help.

The UO Ducks varsity football team in 1953.

Image credit: Oregana Yearbook, 1954, University of Oregon Libraries

The Mims and Washingtons housed Black travelers excluded from Eugene’s white-only hotels—including performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole. The Mims also housed Black UO athletic recruits who were not permitted to stay on campus during their visits.