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New Plaque Honors One Of Eugene’s First Black Residents

A new plaque honors one of Eugene’s earliest African American residents at the site of his former home. Historical research has found that Wiley Griffin lived near the current Eugene Water and Electric Board. The plaque was unveiled Friday.

Wiley Griffin arrived in Eugene in 1891. He was one of the first known African-Americans to live in the city, despite an exclusion clause in the state constitution that made it illegal for blacks to settle in Oregon. Griffin drove a mule-drawn trolley, as Eugene City Councilor Greg Evans explains…

Griffin: “Providing students, faculty and other members of the community transportation between the downtown area and the University of Oregon. And his role in doing that was significant.”

Griffin also worked as a janitor at the U of O. His home was in what was then the outskirts of Eugene city limits, near the Willamette River. From historical photos, it looks like Griffin’s home was regularly flooded during the rainy season.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.
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