Dedicated to making a difference.

Dedicated to making a difference.

Margaret C., age 88

My life has been blessed, full of joy, family, friends, and opportunities to use the gifts that God gave me. I find balance in life by being civically, academically, and spiritually engaged.

My values were instilled in me at a young age, growing up the 8th of 9 children in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was very verbal, and I loved school and learning. My father was a Baptist minister and my mother cooked at the school. They were strong advocates for civil rights. I started handing out voter registration cards when I was six years old.

I dropped out of Gambling State University after 2 ½ years and got married to a man in the military. When he came home, he wasn’t the same. What I know now is that he had PTSD, and he became abusive. After getting out of the hospital in 1967, this time with a broken jaw, I got on a train with my five children and moved to Oregon, sight unseen.

I got an undergraduate degree and eventually a master’s in counseling. I was part of the counseling faculty of Portland Community College for 27 years.

I stayed engaged in the community. In 1983 I was asked to run for the Oregon House of Representatives. And that was the beginning of a 30+ year career as a public official: the first Black woman elected to the Oregon Legislature. I served in the House for 14 years, and then in the Senate, including service as Senate President Pro Tempore and Co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee.

I believe we should never give up on the mission to educate communities that don’t live where we are. And we should never stop working to make a difference, wherever you we can.