Readers respond: A brave recounting of history

My heartfelt thanks for the first installment of acknowledging the history both of the Oregonian and of the state of Oregon, (“Publishing Prejudice: The Oregonian’s Racist Legacy,” Oct. 24). I was born in Grants Pass in 1939, but my family relocated to Tacoma, Washington because my father was called into civil service and spent World War II working at Mt. Rainier Ordinance Base adjacent to Fort Lewis.

But both sides of my family lived and seemingly prospered in Grants Pass for at least two generations before me. My maternal grandfather, Loten Conklin, was a Josephine County supervisor in the 1930s. It was the response, during a visit by my paternal grandparents who still resided in Grants Pass, that began my awareness of racial differences. I was participating in my grade school end of the year celebration of square dancing. My partner was my friend, a Black boy. I was told much later by my parents how unhappy my grandparents were with the exhibition and my partnering. I began to wonder about racial differences and how people become prejudiced. I learned that Grants Pass was a “sundown town.” I’ve continued to wonder about my family’s participation in this history.

Your publication about the role that news outlets play in how people see the world has a sad, sad echo today. Thank you for the bravery of being honest about the past.

Kay Manfull Hartley, Surprise, Arizona

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