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Sunday, June 8, 2014

OSU Social Justice Walking Tour includes W. Dorr Legg story

PHOTO: The first Oregon State University Social Justice Tour was featured by the combined Corvallis and Albany Sunday newspaper in a front-page story by Canda Fuqua, "Social Justice Tour: Marginalized get their due," Gazette-Times, Jun. 8, 2014, p. A1, A5 posted online as "Justice: Giving due to the marginalized," accessed Jun. 8, 2014. I also saw a short report on two TV news stations. Ironically, when readers of the combined Sunday morning print edition of the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times jumped to the continuation of the story on page A5 (shown in upper part of photo above) they also saw the facing page A4 display advertisement for Hobby Lobby -- a business owned by politically active Christians who have notoriously donated money to anti-gay causes (e.g. Google hobby lobby anti-gay donations). I almost missed seeing the Hobby Lobby ad because I am unable to see its bright red headline and so I thank the person who alerted me to it). I doubt the newspaper's layout was intentionally anti-gay because most newspaper layout software doesn't show display ads until much later in the production process and I doubt anybody at a busy daily would have the time to do it on deadline, but this unintentionally anti-gay layout would make for a good conspiracy. (The newspaper also provided a link to the mobile phone app for the tour:, which unfortunately is not low-vision accessible -- I wasn't able to find a text version of it and therefore I haven't been able to review it yet. I wish I had been able to participate in the tour in person, but I do not have the needed strength or health right now.)

The above newspaper article credits Professor Natchee Barnd, an assistant professor of ethnic studies, and four Oregon State University graduate students in his ethnohistory methodology course for creating the social justice walking tour stories, which he emphasized, were fictional, but "were rooted in the historical context of the time and place." The article said, "Using a mix of creative storytelling techniques and historical research, the students on Wednesday led a group of nearly 50 people on the Social Justice Tour of Corvallis, connecting the crowd with the narratives in a very concrete way. . . They detailed the life of a slave who bought his freedom in 1859 and homesteaded along the Alsea River, Chinese railroad workers of the 1880s, a college professor and gay rights activist in 1935, and a Japanese-American football player at Oregon State who was forced to miss the 1942 Rose Bowl because the government considered him a security risk after the bombing of Pearl Harbor."

When asked for input a few months ago, I recommended to Prof. Natchee Barnd that he include in his social justice tour the former Oregon State University Professor W. Dorr Legg, who was a homophile movement founder before the 1969 Stonewall riot and who later founded the gay Log Cabin Republicans. Thanks to the San Francisco activist Michael Petrelis, who did the FBI freedom of information requests, we now know that the famously closeted FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a file on Legg that documented the houses Legg lived in when he was a professor at OSU in the 1930's and 1940's. (See FBI files on gay OSU professor 1956 (7/7/10))

One of the participants in the walking tour, Jason Dorsette, moved to Corvallis four months ago to become director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center at OSU. If he hasn't seen it already, I hope he will have a chance to read my previous post OSU cross burning 1976 (8/5/06) about early vandalism that occurred when the black student's cultural center was first started. I accidently bumped into this article while researching OSU history and I recalled how OSU at the time was predominately white, but it was not overtly racist like what I experienced at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in the 1950's.

See my previous posts