Strides For Social Justice App Offers A Tour Of Black History In Eugene
A new mobile app developed by PeaceHealth and the Eugene Marathon takes users on a guided tour highlighting Black History throughout Eugene. The program includes audio, video and descriptions of several events and landmarks.
Last year, when the Eugene Marathon was canceled because of the pandemic, both PeaceHealth and Eugene Marathon brain-stormed alternative solutions.
"During that time George Floyd was murdered and all of the subsequent protests occurred and then the idea began to take form," said Marcy Marshall, the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at PeaceHealth. "We were really impacted deeply, personally, we wanted to see if we could collaborate on a program that really focused on social justice."
They came up with Strides for Social Justice, an app where users can explore Black History found in Downtown, West Eugene, Westmoreland Park, and South Eugene. Each route is guided by guides including Healthy Moves Executive Director Denise Thomas and Dr. Yvette Alex-Assensoh the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Oregon.
Ian Dobson, the Eugene Marathon Race Director, said the program is only one step in addressing racism. He adds the process of creating the app was illuminating.
"I've lived here for 10 years and I didn't know the Ferry Street Community existed where Alton Baker is now, and where I run almost everyday and where our Eugene Marathon course passes through, and the fact that that history was not until recently memorialized, or understood is a failure in terms of our community understanding of our past," he said.
In the 1940s, the Ferry Street Community was home to one of the only African-American communities in Eugene at the time when Black people were prohibited from buying and renting homes because of Oregon law. When the city decided to expand the Ferry Street Bridge in 1949, Black people were forced to vacate their homes and the area was later bulldozed. This history, of course, can be found in the app.
Strides for Social Justice was designed with the help of a steering committee composed of 15 community members, including Executive Director of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP, Eric Richardson.
“Ultimately, it’s all about holistic health, we want people people to be healthy in their mind, and be able to express interest in things outside of themselves and in their own culture, and this isn’t only for Black folks, this is for our city, our state, and we want people to celebrate each other's history,” Richardson said.
Richardson praised the efforts of both PeaceHealth, Eugene Marathon and local historians Mark Harris and Cheri Turpin, both on the steering committee, who offered their expertise for the app. He said the combination of physical activity with reading and sharing stories found in the app is a good way to exercise the mind, body, and soul.
"This idea from PeaceHealth, a major medical player in our state, of really acknowledging racism as a social ill, I don't think we went so far as to say it's a medical condition...but in many ways that was the direction we were pointing toward, that racism, white supremacy, these things in many ways have to do with one's mental outlook," he said.
Strides for Social Justice is available now in English, and can be found on both iOS and Android app stores. A Spanish version of the app is currently in the works along with new routes that are expected to be added in the next few months.
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