A new academic, cultural, and social home for the UO’s Black students and the community
With this month’s opening of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center, the University of Oregon realizes the dream of generations of activists: an academic, cultural, and social home for the UO’s Black students and the community.
Spurred by student demands, and made possible by grassroots support and a lead gift from Nancy and Dave Petrone, the center is named for Lyllye Reynolds-Parker, a civil rights activist and UO alumna who touched countless lives of UO students in her career as an academic advisor. Aris Hall, new to campus as the center’s coordinator, will oversee its programming and student services.
The UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History marks the center’s opening with Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years—The Eugene Story, an exhibit that chronicles the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s and the efforts to bring about social and political change.
Lyllye Reynolds-Parker was born in Eugene in a house without running water and was discriminated against throughout her life. How did such a woman—who didn’t go to college until age 40, and then, as a single mother—become an inspiration to countless students and a champion of Black student empowerment and community?
The Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center officially opens one year to the day after breaking ground. But the new center, a symbol of “an amazingly progressive turning point” against the forces of institutional racism, represents a 50-year journey of engagement, activism, student demands, and ultimately, collaboration.
Through photographs, recorded interviews, and historical archives, a new exhibit chronicles the civil rights movement in Eugene and on the UO campus during the 1960s and 1970s, and tells the stories of the activists who endured the struggle and the young people who were catalysts for change.