Black History Month: Beatrice Morrow Cannady

Today I want to talk about Beatrice Morrow Cannady. A Civil rights advocate, newspaper editor, and change maker.

Born in Littig, Texas, she moved to Oregon in 1912 to marry Edward Cannady, the founder and editor of the Advocate newspaper. She worked as the associate editor of the paper, eventually becoming it’s editor and owner after their divorce in 1930.

During that time, she also became engaged in the Portland Community, and was the First African-American woman to graduate from the Northwestern College of Law (Now Lewis and Clark Law School) in 1922. She was a founding member in the Portland NAACP and spoke at the 1928 National Convention of the NAACP, where she said, “It is the duty of the Negro woman to see that in the home there are histories of her race written by Negro historians. . . . The Negro mother has it within her power to invest less in overstuffed furniture . . . and more in books and music by and about the Negro race so that our youth my grow up with a pride of race which can never be had any other way.”

As the editor of the Advocate she published stories focused on racial disparities in the state. She talked about the KKK and racial segregation in Oregon restaurants and stores. She talked about school black exclusion from Oregon Schools in Columbia County.

In her life she worked in the community, writing articles and giving lectures on African American history and racial equity. She turned her living room into a lending library of black literature and magazines. He also invested time focusing on addressing the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex. In 1932, she ran unsuccessfully for the Oregon State Legislature. It would be more than 50 years before a Black woman would be elected to the Oregon legislature.

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