ORP was founded in 2018 by Taylor Stewart to memorialize Alonzo Tucker, Oregon’s most widely documented African American victim of lynching. Stewart started ORP after taking a life-changing trip to the American South where he first encountered the history of lynching at the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Stewart lived in Oregon his entire life and couldn’t believe that he had to go all the way to Montgomery, AL just to learn about Alonzo Tucker. Stewart was inspired by this encounter with history to get involved in the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project, which aims to work in the communities where the lynchings of African Americans took place to find healing and reconciliation through a sober reflection on history. Originally titled the “Oregon Community Remembrance Project,” ORP credits its origin to the work of the Equal Justice Initiative. In what simply began as an obscure personal side project, ORP but has since grown to become a wider movement to reconcile Oregon’s history of racial injustice.
Created by Pink Robot Studios, ORP is represented by the image of rose in a jar. The jar pays homage to the memory of Alonzo Tucker, whose lynching has inspired a movement of truth and reconciliation in Oregon. The rose represents Portland, the City of Roses, where ORP is based. However, the rose also represents the idea that if you make it through the difficult, or thorny, part of the flower, there’s something beautiful on the other end. In that same way, if we make it through remembrance and repair, there’s something better, redemption, waiting for us on the other end.
Taylor Stewart has resided in Portland, OR his entire life. He graduated from the University of Portland with a degree in Communication and Portland State University with a Master’s in Social Work. Two encounters inspired Stewart to start the Oregon Remembrance Project. The first was a quote from John Lewis, longtime Civil Rights icon and Congressman from Georgia, who said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” This inspired Stewart with the fierce urgency of now. The second was the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum where the museum focused on the stories of everyday Mississippians who did their part to pave the way for justice. This taught Stewart the idea that you don’t have to be an extraordinary person to do extraordinary things. Stewart’s life was transformed by the opportunity to participate in the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Projects. He hopes to bring that same opportunity for transformation to other individuals and communities in Oregon.