Black History Month: Willie Mae Young Hart

Today I want to talk about Willie Mae Young Hart, who I never knew, but was a member of our Portland community until her death at age 102 in 2017. 

Mrs. Hart came to Portland by way of Mississippi in 1939. 

Throughout her life she was an advocate and fighter for the Black Community in Oregon through her work with the NAACP and the Urban League. After working in shipyards in WWII, she opened the Beacon Cab Company with her husband and another friend, which went on to provide emergency cab service in the aftermath of the Vanport flood.

She later attended OHSU and was the first African American nurse to work at Physicians and Surgeons Hospital. She was still using her nursing skills to care for people in her community well into her 90s.

During the 1960 presidential campaign she noticed that none of JFKs campaign stops
in Oregon met with the black community, so she arranged a picnic at Jantzen beach where she took the opportunity to speak with him about the issues facing her community.

A portrait of her hangs in Portland City Hall.

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