Civil Rights Activist Beatrice Morrow Cannady Honored with Oregon Elementary School

HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. — The first African American woman to graduate from law school in Oregon, Beatrice Morrow Cannady (1889-1974), was a noted civil rights activist and has been recognized with the recent naming of a new elementary school in her honor.

Cannady was editor of the Advocate, Oregon’s largest African American newspaper and co-founded the Oregon chapter of the NAACP. Throughout her career, she lectured high school and college students about the importance of improved race relations.

In 2017, North Clackamas Schools (NCSD) made a $230,000 acquisition of nearly 2.5 acres required for the elementary school property following an 8-acre purchase a decade ago $1.58 million. The $36.9 million elementary school project is expected to commence this month and be completed in August 2019.

Meanwhile, the school board was also tasked with naming a high school project for which the naming committee proposed Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson, though many have stated a preference for the more alliterative “Happy Valley High,” including the entire city council of the city. The council prevailed upon the board to respect its wishes in a letter written by Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer to the NCSD. A point of concern for some officials is the notion that a high school named after their city would seem to exclude students from unincorporated areas outside of the city limits.

“We do not want this to be a moment that divides our community, but one where we celebrate together. Schools are often some of a community’s best landmarks, and we are honored that two new facilities, whose benefits will be appreciated by people inside and outside the school district, are being added to our area,” officials said in a statement issued by the city of Happy Valley.

For the time being the School Naming Committee has been retired and the school board has not yet devised a mechanism to find a name for the high school. “We’ve reached out to the school district and offered our assistance in finding a solution. As the school district continues to grow, we look forward to a continued partnership serving the community together,” read a city-issued statement.