Governor Brown is committed to ensuring that the needs of Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, immigrant, refugee, Native American, and Tribal communities in Oregon are elevated. Oregon’s future must open doors to those who have been shut out.
In 2020, Governor Brown convened the Racial Justice Council (RJC) to center the perspectives of Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Native American, Tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and communities of color. Community leaders from many different backgrounds and life experiences from all across the state came together to create the Council and to focus on transformative change.
Oregon’s history of racial injustice runs deep. Oregon was admitted to the union in 1859 as the only free state that denied citizenship to free Black Americans and instituted multiple laws infringing upon their rights to own property or enter contracts; the Black exclusion law was not formally repealed until 1926. This legacy of systemic violence persists and is still evident today. Although we have struggled to dismantle the racist structures that have been part of Oregon since its creation, Governor Brown has continued to make investments and policies that support long-awaited anti-racist institutional changes.
Together, the Governor and the RJC developed budget and policy recommendations, which influenced the short, medium, and long term goals to address structural racism — putting Oregon on a track to build a stronger, fairer, and more equitable Oregon where everyone can thrive. The RJC has centered, for the first time, the dismantling of systemic racism from Oregon’s civic institutions at a statewide level, starting with advancing the RJC’s budget and policy recommendations. In addition, the Council recommended legislative actions, executive orders, and investments to make substantial progress toward a racially just Oregon. A full list of the Racial Justice Council’s 2021 legislative accomplishments can be found
Oregon’s — and the nation’s — long history of racist policies will not be deconstructed in a day, or a year, or in one budget cycle or legislative session. But they can be dismantled in the same manner they were built: brick by brick, through new policies and new practices backed by real investment. This is why the Governor signed House Bill 2167, which codified the Racial Justice Council and its focus on equity and racial justice — the first state in the country to have such a council. By institutionalizing the Racial Justice Council itself for years to come, the state of Oregon is taking meaningful steps to incorporate anti-racism into the state government’s policies, budget process, state workforce, and structures.