The Skanner founders Bernie and Bobbie Foster, along with six other prominent African American Portlanders, are being honored this month in the Rose Garden by The Portland Trail Blazers and the Bridge Builders youth organization.
The Fosters were joined by Phil Walden (honored on Feb. 1), Kelci Rae Flowers and Olaremi Sobomehin (Feb. 22), Shaler Halimon (Feb. 24), and Dr. Larry Griggs and Lavern Woods (Feb. 26.). The Fosters were honored in the Rose Garden on Feb. 3.
The Fosters, a local husband-wife team, founded the Skanner News Group in 1975. They publish two weekly newspapers, the Portland and Seattle editions of The Skanner. For the past 30 years, Bernie has led as president and Bobbie has significantly contributed as the publication's executive editor. The Skanner has sponsored numerous community events and has been fundamental in shedding light on hard issues that continue to challenge the African American community.
Most notably, the Fosters were instrumental in changing the name of the former Union Avenue into the current Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in 1988. The Fosters have dedicated their lives to educating the public and advocating for the formation of public policy that enables equal opportunity. Bernie Foster is the President of the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), and makes it his editorial priority to champion greater accessibility and resources to help facilitate increased Black home ownership; he has instituted an annual Homebuyer Fair, Education Classes and a Coaching Project.
Bobbie Dore Foster equally contributes donating her time to her alma mater, the University of Portland; the De La Salle North Catholic High School Board; the Albina Rotary Club; the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Board; and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
The Fosters are two of the eight local African Americans that will be honored at a home game during the month of February. Honorees are selected based upon their outstanding achievement and ongoing contribution to the Portland community. The Fosters will receive a $500 stipend and an honorary ticket section that will be donated to St. Andrew Nativity School and De La Salle North Catholic High School on their behalf.
A special center court presentation of all the 2006 honorees will take place at the Trail Blazers vs. Celtics game on Friday, Feb. 24. Teenagers from the Bridge Builders' Prospective Gents program, a local rites-of-passage program for African-American youth, will present handmade tapestries to each recipient -- the Gents crafted the wall hangings out of authentic Kente cloth. It is customary for rites of passage participants to present elders with handmade gifts to signify reverence and respect.
In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D., the second Black to ever receive a doctorate from Harvard University, inaugurated Negro History Week, which later evolved into Black History Month in 1976. This monthlong celebration is a time for Americans to reflect on the history and teachings of African Americans whose contributions are still too little known. It is the month in which the nation bears witness to the progress, richness and diversity of African American achievement.