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A Black Journey in Portland, Oregon

A Black Journey in Portland, Oregon

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My father was a Black man who wore his Blackness both outwardly and inwardly.  Daddy took great pleasure and satisfaction in being Black and he actively supported and worked towards the betterment of Black people throughout the diaspora.  Daddy did not waste time in conversation with Whites regarding racism.  Daddy simply stated a fact and ‘allowed’ Whites to determine whether or not the racial ‘issue’ had to go to a physical level….

A ‘good’ example of my father’s racial character (c.1950s) came shortly after he went to play golf on a previously all-White golf course in Portland, Oregon.  When confronted on the course by a mob-mentality group of White men intent on doing my father physical harm, Daddy stood his ground and refused to leave.  And, when the ‘mob’ moved to advance on my ‘Black’ father, Daddy swiftly pulled an iron from his golf bag and swung it around his head as he exclaimed to all that the ‘first one in is dead….’  Needless to say, the mob quickly dispersed and Daddy continued his game of golf without further interruption.

As a result of my father’s refusal to barter his freedom to ‘enjoy’ his game of golf, that previously all-White Rose City Golf Course became my father’s ‘second home’.  Daddy continued to regularly play golf on that course.  And, Daddy introduced other Blacks to the game and the course and the money that could be made there.

My father was always ‘aware’ of race.  He knew firsthand that White folk posed a never-ending danger to Black folk and Daddy schooled me – and other Blacks — accordingly.

If there ever was a hero on earth, it was my father.  Daddy did not kowtow to White folk nor did my father ‘allow’ Whites to joke about race or racial issues in his presence.

Amongst my fondest memories, as a child, was my daddy reciting the poetry of ‘Black’ Paul Laurence Dunbar in our home – a practice I continued with my own children and others.  I also remember both the respect and the sadness my father expressed when he spoke in ‘private’ detail relative to ‘Black’ Paul Robeson….

My father was a man of many many talents.  Along with speaking Creek, Latin, Spanish, and English, my father built his own printing press for use in the multiple businesses he started.  Daddy was an adept accountant, mover, electrician, plumber, painter, writer, golfer, and more.

Daddy’s morning routine included running a distance of 10+ miles, exercising outside our house, a cold shower, preparing breakfast for our family, singing, and often playing our family piano.  Daddy regularly managed all of the above before going to work or before going to play an AM round of golf on the golf course we nicknamed Daddy’s “second home” – Rose City Golf Course in Portland, Oregon.

My ‘Black’ father was a man who especially enjoyed the cold.  He played golf all year round — ice and snow did not deter him or his enthusiasm.  In fact, Daddy took great pleasure in playing golf during the winter weather when few, if any, White golfers were on the course.  In relatively short time, Daddy developed and established an annual golf tournament which he named the “Iceberg Open” at Rose City Golf Course in Portland, Oregon.

Under my father’s direction, I handled much of the advertising end (including write-ups and more).   All of the ‘Iceberg Open’ details – including rules, names, categories, scoring, payouts, etc. came from my father’s mind and creativity.   Following the c.3 day event, Daddy and I collaborated in writing up and printing the results and news pieces for the media.  As expected by my dad, the annual ‘Iceberg Open’ Golf Tournament was a fun and challenging success.

Integration at Portland’s Rose City Golf Course was not a smooth process for my father or the other Blacks he soon brought with him to the course.  Before steering other Blacks towards Rose City and the game of golf, Daddy schooled many on the reality of racism.  Daddy admonished all of us to be aware and prepared.  Daddy exclaimed that ‘a Black man knows better than to call the police in a dispute with a White man.  A Black man knows to handle the problem himself….’

There were many instances of racism at Rose City Golf Course, however, we Blacks handled the problems swiftly and effectively for the most part.  And, there was a silent agreement amongst all of the golfers that ‘what happens at Rose City Golf Course, stays in-house’.  I am reminded of an incident that required a Black golfer to pull a machete from his golf bag.  The Black golfer was playing golf with three White golfers and the Black golfer was ‘winning’.  Following the machete incident, that game of golf continued and the Black golfer won.  That was just one of the many racial incidents that occurred on the course at Rose City Golf Course.

Daddy never really ‘liked’ working under the control of others who dictated commands.  Accordingly, Daddy quickly began his own business which incorporated a variety of ventures.  Daddy, with overstanding and without restraint, provided jobs to Black folk.  Under my father’s tutelage, I learned such skills as writing, accounting, scheduling, organizing, management, typing, language, carpentry, pricing, racial and human relations, and more.  Daddy also advised that it is often better for me to do something than to walk away wishing that I had done something….

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