Media Room


Governor Kate Brown
Racial Justice Council
October 14, 2020

Good morning everyone! I’m so glad that you could all join us for what I anticipate will be an informative and generative session for all of us.

Before we get started, I want to say a few words about a holiday we observed on Monday: Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

As you are all very well aware, Indigenous Peoples have called Oregon home since time immemorial, deeply shaping the culture and character of our state.

For those of you who are not familiar with my history, I got to know Oregon’s nine federally-recognized tribes when I was a legislator. 

My first committee assignment was the Legislative Commission for Indian Services. It had been a committee overlooked by some legislative leaders, but its role is critical in furthering racial justice for Oregon’s indigenous and tribal peoples.

Together, we’ve been able to make some ground-breaking progress:
Codified government to government relationships with our Tribes. 
Eliminated the S word from our maps and documents, taking an important step toward eradicating racist language from our government and society.
Passed a bill to support Tribal elders teaching native languages in our public schools, preserving Oregon’s native languages for generations to come.
And SB 13, of which I am particularly proud, that ensures that Native American history is taught in Oregon schools, as it should be. 

We still have work to do but for me, serving on the commission was an incredibly rich and rewarding opportunity to connect with Oregon’s nine federally-recognized tribes, and serve as an advocate and liaison between the state of Oregon and these sovereign nations. I have taken the lessons I have learned with me throughout my time in elected office.  

As your governor, I have been honored to proclaim the second Monday of October to be Indigenous Peoples' Day. 

We’ll be having conversations with Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes to discuss whether or not we move forward with legislation for the upcoming session.

I want to give our presenters and your discussion as much time as possible, so I’ll keep the rest of my remarks brief. 

Today we’re going to do a deep-dive into three important issues facing Oregonians in our Black, people of color and tribal communities: housing and homelessness, education, criminal justice reform and police accountability. 

They’re each pieces of a complex puzzle. I am glad we grouped them together today because each in their own way can be a game-changer.

We know that the opportunity gap exists before students even step foot in the classroom. That’s why the investments we’ve made in early childhood education need to continue and increase.

We know that students need teachers who not only open doors for them, but reflect their experiences. That’s why I vetoed the legislative budget cut to the Education Advancement Council, the group designated to diversify Oregon’s educator pipeline. 

We know that housing is a human need. Period. Stability – physical, emotional, and financial – is tied to the home. And, property ownership is a key part of wealth. Properties are often passed from grandparents to parents to children.

Right now, Black homeownership in Portland stands at 25%. That’s compared to 57% white homeownership. This must change. 

And we know that reforming our policing and criminal justice systems has the power to re-envision how we hold people to account for their actions and grant second chances. On this day, the day that would have been George Floyd’s 47th birthday, we are reminded that this reform can mean the difference between life and death. 

I cannot stress enough how important this work is. We have a real chance here to enact racial justice in Oregon at a truly fundamental level – for kids in our classrooms, families in need of shelter, and keeping our communities safe. 

Thank you all for participating in your respective committees to help draft the recommendations for the 2021-23 Governor’s Recommended budget and policy agenda.

I can’t wait to see the p​roduct of our work. Let’s get going.