About the Letitia Carson Legacy Project
The Letitia Carson Legacy Project is a partnership of four organizations – Black Oregon Land Trust, Oregon Black Pioneers, the Linn-Benton Counties NAACP Branch, and Oregon State University. The LCLP is committed to honoring Letitia Carson’s legacy on the very land she first homesteaded in Oregon. The Letitia Carson Legacy Project connects powerful Black women and their communities across over 170 years of Oregon history.
We envision a 21st-century version of Letitia’s Soap Creek homestead to inspire, educate, and nurture future generations, with a focus on Black and Indigenous growers, gatherers, foragers, entrepreneurs, and leaders in Oregon. We imagine experiential learning and applied research opportunities for OSU students, faculty, and the broader community. We imagine welcoming students, families, and community members to the land to learn Letitia’s inspiring story.
Oregon Black Pioneers leads the historic interpretation for our project, with these goals:
- The public will become familiar with Letitia Carson, her time in Benton County’s Soap Creek Valley, her unprecedented legal battle against Greenberry Smith, and her successful acquisition of land of her own in Douglas County, Oregon.
- The public will be better able to examine Oregon’s contemporary racial demographics and racial inequalities critically.
- Letitia Carson’s story will inspire contemporary Black Oregonians to connect with the land as a source of healing, entrepreneurship, and economic justice.
The Letitia Carson Legacy Project focuses on the Black experience in Oregon while connecting Letitia Carson’s story to the Indigenous people of this region. Letitia Carson’s story is an opportunity to retell the history of this place - Corvallis, the Willamette Valley, Oregon, the U.S. West, and the U.S. as a whole -- from a more complex and multilayered perspective than is typically told. This includes acknowledging the genocide of Indigenous people – specifically, the Kalapuya – and theft of their land by the U.S. government that cleared the way for Letitia Carson, a strong and determined Black woman, to persevere despite the deep, anti-Black racism of her time.