February 20, 2023
Meet Ryan Martin, a Friend at FriendsPDX.
I am a proud African American male born and raised in Northeast Portland. The culture that I was brought up in was very specific. My Grandmother, the Matriarch of our family, was born in 1929 and raised in Domino Texas, and moved to Portland in 1950 to make a better opportunity for her family. She moved to the historic Vanport area where a lot of southern African Americans moved as housing was affordable.
She then moved to Northeast Portland where she gave birth to my mother and her four other children. Northeast Portland became the predominant area for African Americans to buy homes and raise their families. Growing up, culture was very important in my family dynamic, especially the music that was played, the food that was cooked, and the religion that was spoken of were handed down from generations past. I was raised with 2 other siblings. I was also able to grow up with my cousins who are all around the same age as me. All of my family resides in Portland which makes time together more exciting. Storytelling and old folklore are a way of life in our family. It is very important that the younger generation hear the stories from the old days from my grandmother down. We get to hear about everything from picking cotton in the old Southern heat to old remedies for curing sickness stories; Aunt Sister and Aunt Baby who were memorable aunts of my Grandmother’s; how the ’60s and ’70s were better than our generation with the music, style, and overall way the world was.
It’s a huge melting pot of generations all eager for fellowship and to love each other. Black history in my family isn’t about a month. It isn’t about the famous people we read about or see on TV. Black history is about celebrating our heritage and where we came from to where we are now as a people. It’s about not forgetting that there were people in my family who went through some horrendous times and sacrificed so much that we need to be thankful for. It’s critical that I never forget my ancestors. To me, Black history is never letting the names of my ancestors die.
February is Black History Month. FriendsPDX fully acknowledges that Black history is more than a month. Within our program, we have year-round cultural activities and programming for the FriendsPDX community to embrace, learn, and love their identity.