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This year’s Drum Major for Justice Award was given not to an individual, but to a community organization. Albina Vision Trust. The organization was formed to restore the historic lower Albina neighborhood, where gentrification has displaced Black residents and neighborhoods.
Saundra Sorenson
Published: 25 January 2024

“We all must take up the mantle of Dr. King, each one of us to do our part,” emcee James Henderson said in opening the event. “Being here this morning is an excellent way to renew our commitment to ourselves and to those who need us most.”

All members of the Portland City Council were in attendance, along with a number of state and federal legislators, local business and community leaders, advocates, activists and current and former Skanner Foundation scholarship recipients.

Blues and gospel singer LaRhonda Steele and her husband, keyboardist Mark Steele, performed rousing interludes with Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" and Nigerian singer-songwriter Sinach's “I Know Who I Am.”

Many of the speakers referenced the arctic blast that impacted most of the country, and which kept many Portlanders off the roads.

“I appreciate you braving the elements to be part of our getting on the right side of history,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer. “It can’t happen a moment too soon.”

Blumenauer reflected on working with The Skanner cofounder Bernie Foster to rename Union Avenue MLK Boulevard and the crash course he received in “the dark, racist underbelly” of his native Portland.

“The vitriol that came pouring forth with a simple renaming of the street after a Nobel Prize winner – I was not prepared to see that, and it happened in so many strange ways. I had a dear friend whose father had a business on Union Avenue. He was so incensed that he went down to city hall and changed the street address from Union Avenue to Clay Street, so it wouldn’t bear the name of Dr. King. Can you imagine?

“But in fact that has happened over the course of our history, in terms of denying opportunities, particularly for Black Americans – veterans who returned from World War II when my father could not buy a home in Laurelhurst, even if they had the money. And the legacy of that discrimination, particularly in housing, has rippled forward, denying economic opportunities to tens of thousands of families.”

He continued, “I am pleased that we as a community are starting to re-address that: Putting in place equitable policies, we’ve had some federal money available to try and heal the scar that was created in our community, with Interstate 5 and other projects moving out thousands of Black families, destroying hundreds of Black businesses. Setting us back. I think we as a community are prepared to turn that corner, and the gathering that Bernie and Bobbie have hosted for as long as I’ve been in Congress and beyond, is a part of that process.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden praised The Skanner’s cofounders as “indestructible in terms of making sure that there is visibility and attention to the issues that are so important in the community.”

“I’m reminded that many of the injustices named in Dr. King’s iconic address persist today,” Wyden continued by video. “He said then, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ Sixty years later, a lot of hard work still lies ahead. We have to commit to ensure that every family has access to affordable childcare and a safe, reliable home to live in. It’s important to work for families and seniors to have access to quality healthcare, including mental healthcare and affordable medicine. It’s critical to fight the climate crisis, which already disproportionately hammers communities of color. It’s time to make sure – and this is a focus of my work on the Senate Finance Committee – that billionaires pay their fair share in taxes, like teachers and nurses and firefighters.”

Drum Major For Justice

This year’s Drum Major for Justice Award was given not to an individual, but to a community organization. Albina Vision Trust. The organization was formed to restore the historic lower Albina neighborhood, where gentrification has displaced Black residents and neighborhoods.

Last year, Albina Vision Trust broke ground on Albina One, a 94-unit development of affordable housing, and on its own permanent community headquarters on North Williams Avenue.

“This award is special to us, having a vision of creating new spaces for the community and revitalizing what has been, and leading to spatial justice, design justice and all of these other things that that being a Drum Major for Justice holds within its bounds,” Kayin Talton, who works in partnership and design at the organization, said.

Skanner cofounder and executive editor Bobbie Doré Foster praised the organization.

“Thank you for your vision to transform Northeast Portland into a beautiful, functional community where everyone can feel safe and valued,” she said.

“You guys have a model, and you can take it around the country,” Bernie Foster added during his address.

Supporting Scholars

The Skanner Foundation honored 35 students with scholarships in what many called the highlight of the yearly event. (Recipients are listed below.)

“One of the main reasons we’re here today is to honor the next generation of leaders,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “We are honoring them with one of the highest gifts that we as elders can give to them, which is a fair shot to educate themselves. And that's why we’re here.”

Former scholarship recipient Marneet Lewis spoke by video about how funding from the Skanner Foundation enabled her to ultimately get her master of science degree in both business management and organizational leadership, as well as a certificate to teach English as a second language.

“The vote of confidence by receiving the scholarship money, as well as attending the legendary breakfast, has done leaps and bounds for me,” Lewis said. “Not only the sense of community rallying behind me, but giving me an extra boost of self esteem and self reassurance in my skill sets, as well as for striving and pursuing my academic goals.”

Watch The Skanner Foundation’s 38th Annual MLK Breakfast:

 

MLK Breakfast on TV

The Skanner Foundation 38th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Jan. 15, 2024, has been successfully scheduled. The dates and times for the Comcast Xfinity channels are below. For more information on the channels, please visit: https://www.opensignalpdx.org/cable-tv/channels/. To watch these airings online go to: https://www.watch.opensignalpdx.org/cable.

  • Channel 11: Sunday, 2-04-2024, 5:00 p.m.
  • Channel 23: Wednesday, 2-07-2024, 9:00 p.m.
  • Channel 22: Friday, 2-09-2024, 6:30 p.m.
  • Channel 22: Saturday, 2-10-2024, 5:00 p.m.
  • Channel 23: Sunday, 2-11-2024, 6:00 p.m.

The Skanner Foundation 2024 Scholarship Recipients:

Sponsored by University of Oregon

Zaida Ferguson, Kelly Schooler, Thomas Nguyen, all of the University of Oregon; 

Sponsored by PGE

Imogen Cavill, Riley Smith

Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente

Evelyn Ku Castillo, Rachel Lara

Sponsored by Oregon Community Foundation

Joyae Manns

Sponsored by Oregon Lottery

Jayilee Sloan, Raven Pearce, Sicily Larkin, June Healy

Sponsored by Portland State University

Kaitlyn Fitzhenry, Olesia Kogut

Sponsored by Prosper Portland

Imani McRae

Sponsored by Safeway

Daphine Sanchez Flores

Sponsored by TriMet

Elliana Mckinney

Sponsored by Providence Health & Services

Lauren Metcalf

Liliana Bautista-Chevez

Sponsored by Oregon State University

Alyah Elenes

Sponsored by City of Portland

Coco Quaye

Sponsored by Metro

Gabriel Gonzales

Sponsored by The Heatherington Foundation

Elizabeth Marshall-Hendrix

Amy Lopez-Perry

Sponsored by OHSU

Evelyn Velez

Sponsored by Wells Fargo

Matthew Gilligan

Sponsored by Multnomah County

Nathaniel Tripp Folsom

Sponsored by Enterprise Holdings

Elizabeth Cortes

Sponsored by Pacific Power

Colleen Anderson

Sponsored by Turner

Jesus Moreno Rangel

Sponsored by Pepsi

Hannah Warren

Sponsored by Port of Portland

Paige Axness

Sponsored by The Skanner Foundation

Sean Waters

Miracle Uzoekwe

Kynayzya Brewer

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The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast