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Inspirations for action

January 15, 2015

The opinions expressed below are those of intern Victoria Hittner and not necessarily those of Oregon State University Press.


Long holiday weekends are lovely. They provide time for extra recreation, a little relaxation, and perhaps even the opportunity to read a book! But they also offer opportunities for reflection upon why that third day off exists. As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches, we may not all have the capacity to effect change as Dr. King did. We do, however, have the tools necessary to support and aid others within our own communities.


So, in honor of MLK Day, here is a list of several powerful memoirs, biographies, and histories. Follow the lives of the movers and shakers of the Pacific Northwest as they stood up for what they believed in, achieved the near impossible, and made our little pocket of the world an even more beautiful place to live.




A Force for Change

By Kimberley Mangun

Willa Award Winner


African American journalist Beatrice Morrow Cannady bravely utilized her profession to ForceforChangefight segregation and discrimination between 1912 and 1936. A Force for Change highlights Cannady’s important role in advocating for better race relations in Oregon in the early decades of the twentieth century. Using her skills as a reporter, editor, and publisher, Cannady lobbied for the protection of human rights, no matter one’s color or station in life. Mangun’s work helps dispel the myth that African Americans played little part in Oregon’s history and restores due recognition to a woman who played a vital role in developing Oregon politics.



Remembering the Power of Words

By Avel Louise Gordly with Patricia A. Schechter


Remembering the Power of Words recounts the personal and professional journeRememberingthePowerofWordsy of Avel Gordly, the first African-American woman elected to the Oregon State Senate. A brave and honest telling of Gordly’s life, the book follows the struggles of growing up black in Portland in the mid-twentieth century and the incredible power and resilience that stem from determination. Important as a biographical account of one significant Oregonian’s story, Remembering the Power of Words also contributes broader narratives on black history and women’s rights within the state.



Sonny Montes and Mexican American Activism in Oregon

By Glenn Anthony May

Finalist, Oregon Book Award


On one level a biography of Oregon’s leading Mexican American activist, this book also tells SonnyMontesthe broader story of the state’s Mexican American community during the 1960s and 1970s, a story in which Sonny Montes had an important part. Montes became a community leader and visible public figure after his work in collective action like sit-ins, protest marches, and prayer vigils—always with a consistently high level of Chicano support. May’s book deepens our understanding of the Chicano Movement in Oregon and beyond as well as providing a much-needed account of the Mexican American community in Oregon during that time period.



Oregon’s Promise

By David Peterson Del Mar


A concise and compelling general history, Oregon’s Promise explores familiar and neglected OregonsPromisepeople and movements in the state’s history, while challenging readers to view Oregon’s past, present and future in a new way. Peterson del Mar shows there’s more to our beautiful state than just Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail. Examining both the traditional center of Oregon history and its often overlooked margins, readers will discover that the state’s settlers were much more varied, contentious, complicated and interesting than conventional heroic stereotypes would suggest.



Yours for Liberty

By Jean M. Ward and Elaine A. Maveety


Between 1871 and 1887, Duniway, a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, chronicled YoursforLibertythis “true history” in the pages of The New Northwest, one of the few newspapers in the nation devoted to women’s advancement. This compilation of her work provides a vivid portrait of the pioneering suffragist and the turbulent era during which she lived, when traditional social attitudes and institutions were directly challenged. Duniway’s writing sparks with life, her wit and love of adventure evident in tales of attending séances, falling off stagecoaches, being hung in effigy, and barnstorming the Pacific Northwest in the company of Susan B. Anthony.



Linus Pauling

By Clifford Mead and Thomas Hager


One of the most brilliant scientists and controversial figures of the twentieth century, Linus LinusPaulingPauling was the only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes. This unique volume gathers his words and those of his contemporaries and students, together with photographs, drawings, and reproductions from the Pauling Papers. As both scientist and citizen, Pauling was passionate and deeply thoughtful. From his penning of renowned book The Nature of the Chemical Bond to his work with vitamin C as a cure for cancer and cold prevention, Pauling left an indelible mark upon the scientific field.



With Grit and By Grace

By Betty Roberts with Gail Wells


We really can do it all, ladies. Take a page from Betty Roberts’ book and use a combination of WithGritByGracetenacity, passion and dedication to chase your own dreams. In her memoir, Justice Roberts reflects on her role as a mother, wife and political trailblazer. Her story is important to the history of women’s struggles to challenge prevailing stereotypes, but it is also a deeply personal story of a life sometimes stark, sometimes humorous, often exhausting, and always brightened with friendships and family.



Asserting Native Resilience

Edited by Zoltan Grossman and Alan Parker

First Peoples Series


With cultures and economies among the most vulnerable to climate-related catastrophes, AssertingNativeResilienceNative peoples are developing responses to climate change that serve as a model for Native and non-Native communities alike. Having survived the historical and ecological wounds inflicted by colonization, industrialization, and urbanization, Indigenous peoples are using tools of resilience that have enabled them to respond to sudden environmental change and protect the habitat of salmon and other culturally vital species. Asserting Native Resilience presents a rich variety of perspectives on Indigenous responses to the climate crisis, reflecting the voices of more than twenty contributors.




Browse our complete list of titles to find more on influential figures and groups in Oregon’s history. While you’re at it, make sure to catch a sneak peek of some our new and upcoming books; there’s always something exciting to read! Who knows, you just may be inspired to effect some change of your own.

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