The first African American Portland city commissioner, Jordan was instrumental in creating "Portland's Living Room" – Pioneer Courthouse Square. But he is best known as the director of Portland Parks and Recreation, and is also a nationally recognized visionary for promoting parks. During the 1990s, Jordan helped expand the reach of the parks department, doubling the budget, number of employees and increasing the number of parks in the city from 184 to 228. He is a firm believer that a strong parks system is more than just fun and games, it creates healthy communities. Jordan also served as police commissioner and fire commissioner.
Hill served as a state representative from 1983 to 1987, as a state senator from 1987 to 1993 and as Oregon State Treasurer from 1993 to 2001. As treasurer, Hill implemented the Oregon College Savings Plan, which helps families save for education; and the Oregon Growth Account, which funds K-12 education with a portion of lottery funds.
Gladys McCoy (1928-1993)
The mother of seven children, McCoy earned her Masters of Social Work after spending some years as a stay-at-home mom. After serving as the director of Project Head Start in Vancouver, McCoy served two terms as a Portland School Board member beginning in 1970. While she was state ombudsman for affirmative action, McCoy successfully ran for the Multnomah County Commission, where she remained from 1979 to 1984. From 1986 to 1994, she served as chairwoman of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.
Bill McCoy (died 1996)
The husband of Gladys McCoy, Bill shared his wife's passion for politics and the two were named "the first African American political family of Oregon" by the state Legislature in 1996. He was Oregon's first African American state legislator and one of his first acts was to get the legislature to ratify the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause that was amended to the U.S. Constitution in 1866. He was the longest serving state senator in Oregon.
The jazz critic and radio host may seem an unlikely Oregon politico, but Bogle is a true renaissance man. He was a Portland police officer and investigator in the 1960s; was a reporter, producer and anchor for KATU TV for 15 years; and a city commissioner from 1985 to 1992, where he helped enact civil service reform. He is currently the Oregon correspondent for Downbeat magazine, a volunteer for the Portland Police Bureau's Cold Case Homicide Unit
The first African American woman elected to the state legislature, Carter was first elected in 1984 as a representative. She won her current senate seat in 2000. She is the recipient of numerous awards, the founder of the PCC Skills Center, helped create the Oregon Convention Center and a permanent statewide Head Start Program. She sponsored anti-apartheid legislation aimed against South Africa, anti-genocide legislation for Sudan, and bills establishing a Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday, and protection for the Columbia River Gorge and wetlands. She is also a mother of nine children, and has 26 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Retiring this year after serving six terms as a state representative and senator, Gordly is the first African American woman elected to the Oregon state Senate. She is an advocate for mental health services and education; sponsored Aaron's Law, which holds child kidnappers civilly liable for their crimes, and sponsored laws championing police and environmental reform. Traveling the world, Gordly has developed relationships with African nations over trade and tourism. She sponsored the resolution that proclaimed Juneteenth as a day of celebration, and she is currently a faculty member at PSU's Department of Black Studies.
Jo Ann Bowman
Currently the executive director of Oregon Action, a social, racial and economic justice organization, Bowman served for three terms as a state representative starting in 1996. She petitioned to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing, has served on the World Affairs Council, Environmental Justice Action Group, and the African American Police Advisory Council, among others.