11-21-2017  3:02 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

Kenton Library Hosts African American Genealogy Event Dec. 2

Stephen Hanks to present on genealogy resources and methods ...

PSU Hires New Police Chief

Donnell Tanksley brings policing philosophy rooted in community engagement to PSU ...

African American Portraits Exhibit at PAM Ends Dec. 29

Towards the end of its six month run, exhibit conveys the Black experience, late 1800s - 1990s ...

SEI, Sunshine Division Offer Thanksgiving Meals to Families in Need

Turkeys are being provided to fill 200 Thanksgiving food boxes for SEI families ...

NAACP Portland Monthly Meeting Nov. 18

Monthly general membership meeting takes place on Saturday, 12 - 2 p.m. ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Local Author Visits North Portland Library

Renee Watson teaches students and educators about the power of writing ...

Is the FBI’s New Focus on “Black Identity Extremists” the New COINTELPRO?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) talks about the FBI’s misguided report on “Black Identity Extremism” and negative Facebook ads. ...

ACA Enrollment Surging, Even Though It Ends Dec. 15

NNPA contributing writer Cash Michaels writes about enrollment efforts ...

Blacks Often Pay Higher Fees for Car Purchases than Whites

Charlene Crowell explains why Black consumers often pay higher fees than White consumers, because of “add-on” products. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

By Donovan M. Smith | The Skanner News

 At the end of September, the top floor of North Portland library was transformed into a runway for a group of seasoned African American models as they strutted for what photographer Bruce Forster said was a crowd of about 50.

With live music playing, food and an appearance by the “Mayor of Northeast Portland,” Paul Knauls, Forster chalks the day up as a success.

“I’m at a loss of words on how to describe it,” Forster said. “They had great attitude.  They all just loved to sashay, and the music was really just perfect to help them parade around.”

In June, The Skanner News published a feature on Forster’s photo shoot with the models, which took place in 1975. Forster hadn’t collected the women’s names and put out a call to the community to help identify and reunite them.

With readers’ help, almost all the women were identified within a matter of weeks. However, not all were able to participate in the Sept. 27 show at the library.

Most of the women Forster captured in black and white in 1975 are in their 60s now, though some have passed away. Others have moved out of state, and a few could not be located.

Forster said prints of the few who hadn’t been found were placed on a table in the hope that someone may recognize them.

The women who remain in Portland -- Debbie Hicks, Patsy Andrews, Rosa Bletson-Washington and Sue Chiles -- took to the runway with style and confidence.

Those not present from the original shoots included: Mariam Fletcher, Sophia Gentry, Melinda Hicks, Barbara Garnett, Terry Napper and Jackie Allen.

Hicks called the experience “incredible.” Despite losing contact, the women’s comradery remained.

“It was as if we had not missed a beat. The girls were on cue, and we didn’t even have a rehearsal,” Hicks said.

According to Hicks, all of the women from the Forster’s original shoot were a part of a now-defunct Northeast Portland-based modeling troupe called the “Golden Girls.”

“We ate together, we did these shows all over the state of Oregon -- on the coast, up in the mountains, here in the neighborhood, so we pretty much got a chance to know each other and each other’s moves,” Hicks said. “[The reunion show] proved that nobody’s lost anything.”

Hicks said when she heard people were looking to find them this past summer she was both surprised and elated.

“Most of us weren’t looking to be big-time models,” she said. “We were just having fun, and pursuing a sort-of-kind-of dream here in Portland. If we made something of it, that was great. If we didn’t, that was great. We just wanted to give back to the neighborhood.”

Today Hicks said she has no ambition to walk the runway, only to act as a resource for young women who are considering a career path in modeling.

“I don’t know if our babies understand what true beauty is anymore, and how important it is for them to actually love themselves. If I could interest just a handful of girls in what it really means to be successful I’d really be satisfied,” Hicks said. 

Several other women, who weren’t a part of Forster’s original shoots back in 1975, also joined the runway, rounding the Sunday afternoon celebration. All the models were styled by Yollanda Nins-Johnson.

 “The overall thing was the joy of being together and the joy of being back together,” Forster said. “It was just so much fun to hear them getting ready and putting on their makeup, and just jiving with each other. It just got a lot of spirits up,” he said.

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