Moreland Pursues Passion to Preserve Local African-American History

Kimberly Moreland

If in the near future you encounter information about the history of African Americans in Oregon, there’s a good chance it was shaped in some way by George Fox University graduate Kimberly Moreland (MBA14).

In recent years, Moreland has become a compiler of important sites to African-American history in Oregon, a historical book author, a tour guide, and a leader of the statewide Oregon Black Pioneers organization. Her latest project is co-curating an exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, set to open in early 2018.

Moreland’s interest in the topic may be somewhat surprising considering she is not a native Oregonian. Raised in Cleveland, Moreland’s passion for local history began in 1990 when she was an urban planner with the city of Portland and was asked to identify the background of historic resources related to African Americans. “This stirred my passion for African-American history and my work documenting significant places,” she says. “Oregon African-American history is so inspiring. I just really connected to a passion. I’m the family historian.”

Today, Moreland’s focus has broadened beyond Portland as vice president of the Oregon Black Pioneers, headquartered in Salem. On the organization’s board since 2007, Moreland says it allows her “to fulfill my passion in a wonderful way.”

One of the organization’s biggest projects she has guided was a crowd-sourced survey in 2014 that helped compile a list of important historical sites, including “anywhere in Oregon where African Americans worked, sites where important events happened, or objects were created, installed or inspired by African Americans.” The long-term goal is to have sites recorded, marked and signed appropriately, and ultimately to have at least five nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Another project, the forthcoming Oregon Historical Society display, will be a 3,000-square-foot interactive exhibit, titled “Racing for Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years.”

Moreland also wrote a book, African Americans of Portland, published in 2013. The 128-page pictorial history took more than a year to compile and includes detailed captions beneath each photo depicting the African-American community from the late 1800s to the Vanport flood in 1948.

For her day job, Moreland is a project manager with Prosper Portland, working in the Entrepreneurial and Community Economic Development Department. Much of her work involves implementing the N/NE Community Development Initiative Action Plan focused on economic prosperity for people of color in North and Northeast Portland, including connecting property and business owners to programs that provide technical assistance and funding to help grow their businesses.

Both she and her husband of 30 years, Michael Moreland (ADP94), are active at Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Both are deacons, help in the welcome ministry, and are leaders of the couples life group.

“Giving back to the community is really an investment in your own life,” says Moreland of her busy schedule. “You receive so many blessings from giving to others.”