CORVALLIS, Ore. - Avel Louise Gordly, the first African American woman elected to the Oregon Senate and author of a new memoir, will present a lecture on Tuesday, May 17, at Oregon State University.
The free public event begins at 7:30 p.m. in Austin Auditorium at LaSells Stewart Center, with a book signing to follow.
Gordly will speak and share excerpts from her memoir, “Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader,” which was published this March by the OSU Press.
Her experience documents an important piece of state history and sheds light on the politics of being an African American woman, according to Nancy Barbour, the George P. Griffis Publishing Intern for the OSU Press. Recognizing that words are both powerful and empowering, Gordly continues to use her voice to educate and inspire others, Barbour added.
Her lecture will address many of her life's challenges and accomplishments, which include: growing up as an African American in Portland, claiming her education, becoming a Civil Rights activist, joining the Free South Africa movement, working in the legislature to remove racist language from the state constitution, traveling to South Africa, Zambia, and Ghana on trade missions and cultural exchanges, and sharing her knowledge with students as a professor in the Black Studies Department at Portland State University.
Gordly’s own battles with depression motivated her longtime advocacy for public access to mental health services. In 2008, OSHU opened the Avel Gordly Center for Healing, a multicultural adult outpatient treatment clinic in Portland.
Former Oregon State Sen. Cliff Trow will introduce Gordly at OSU on May 17. Her visit to OSU is sponsored by Oregon State University Press; the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs; the Office of Community and Diversity; the School of Language, Culture, and Society; the School of Public Policy; the Valley Library; and the Women's Center. The event is free and open to the public.