My view: Many agree that racial exclusion laws were unfair
During the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (OVBC) asked 1,584 Oregon residents ages 18 or older to assess the level of fairness of historic race-based exclusionary laws in Oregon, as well as their level of support for financial reparations for descendants of enslaved African Americans.
Oregonians are mostly united in their acknowledgment that historic racial exclusion laws were not fair to African American Oregonians.
Specifically, we asked Oregonians if they thought the Donation Land Act was fair to citizens who were not white, an act that granted 320 acres of designated areas free of charge to every unmarried white male citizen 18 or older, and 640 acres to every married white couple, arriving in the Oregon Territory before Dec. 1, 1850. A majority of Oregonians found fault with giving away land, which had been stolen from indigenous populations, and restricting the gift based on race.
• Statewide, 76% say the Donation Land Act was unfair to those who were deemed not white.
• More specifically, 81% of females, 90% of those of the age 65 or older, and 94% of those with four-year or graduate school college degrees think this was not fair to those not deemed white.
We also asked Oregonians about African American families mostly left out of homeownership: "Until the 1960s, when the civil rights movement led to the Fair Housing Act and later, in 1977, to the Community Reinvestment Act, African American families were nearly completely excluded from homeownership in Oregon. Was this fair to African American families?"
• Statewide, 81% think this was not fair to African American families.
• More specifically, 85% females, 94% of those 65 or older, 80% of both BIPOC and white Oregonians, and 95% of those with four-year or graduate school college degrees think this was not fair to African American families.
Robin Quirke is the research director of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and nonpartisan statewide opinion research organization. Quirke also co-directed the landmark study, Finding Common Ground in a Divided Culture. They live in Eugene.
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