HomeAbout LCLP: Mission, Vision, Values

About LCLP: Mission, Vision, Values

About the LCLP

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 – committed to honoring Letitia Carson’s legacy. The Letitia Carson Legacy Project connects powerful Black women and their communities across 177 years of Oregon history. The Project focuses on the Black experience in Oregon while connecting these women and communities to the Indigenous people of this region. We envision creating, on Letitia Carson’s land, a 21st-century version of her Soap Creek homestead to inspire, educate, and nurture Oregon’s future generations of Black and Indigenous growers, gatherers, foragers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. We imagine experiential learning and applied research opportunities for OSU students and faculty. We imagine welcoming kids, families, and community members to the land to learn and share Letitia’s inspiring story. This site is unique: nowhere else in the country can the public visit and participate in programs on land once owned by a Black pioneer.

Based on a design phase in 2021, the LCLP has planned the following for the next two years:

  • Creation of a digital history exhibit and traveling “pop-up” exhibit.
  • Archaeological exploration at the homestead site; Small-scale on-site programming compatible with current management.
  • Outreach to engage and activate the OSU community and external partners.

The Letitia Carson Legacy Project is part of a restorative justice movement in Oregon, and across the U.S. We will focus on our part in this place. In the next two years, we will build public support, secure funding, and make specific, tangible progress. Letitia Carson’s strength, determination, and resilience are deeply inspiring, and her story must be more widely known and celebrated. Through her, we can learn more about the history and resilience of Black folk, especially Black women, in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, and the West. For more information, contact us!

Our Vision 

The Letitia Carson Legacy Project (LCLP) is a collaborative effort to preserve, interpret, and activate the 19th-century homestead of Letitia Carson and her family in Benton County, Oregon. During our design phase in April-November of 2021, project partners developed the following plan for interpreting the story of Letitia Carson for the public using the unique resource of the Carson homestead and the combined expertise of LCLP partners.

We envision creating, on Letitia Carson’s land, a 21st-century version of her Soap Creek homestead to inspire, educate, and nurture Oregon’s future generations of Black and Indigenous growers, gatherers, foragers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. On this land, we can learn and practice restorative, regenerative agriculture and land stewardship necessary for resilience in a rapidly changing environment. We imagine experiential learning and applied research opportunities for OSU students and faculty. We imagine welcoming kids, families, and community members to the land to learn and share Letitia’s inspiring story. This site is unique: nowhere else in the country can the public visit and participate in programs on land once owned by a Black pioneer.

More broadly, 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 overcome the deep, anti-Black racism of her time.

We believe that the Letitia Carson Legacy Project is an opportunity for reparations – reparations that are specific to this project, these partners, this land, and Oregon’s history. The term “reparations” often means financial compensation, but that is not our approach. In the design phase, we envisioned the following ways to repair harm to communities.

  • The hiring of tenure-track OSU faculty in public history, agroecology, education, or other connected fields who can speak directly to the experience of Black communities.
  • Creation of an endowment to fund scholarships for Black undergrad and grad students, paired with mentorship, so they leave OSU debt-free and with excellent jobs.
  • Creation of an endowment to fund student internships for Black students to work with Black Oregon Land Trust, Oregon Black Pioneers, Linn-Benton Counties NAACP Branch, and the OSU Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems.

Letitia was forced, against her will, to leave her land. However, she did find a new home and community in Douglas County. We want Black students who graduate from OSU to leave feeling they were part of a kind and caring community that actively supports them and cares about their success. A second significant reparations opportunity is to work with Black Oregon Land Trust to make Letitia Carson’s land available for Black farmers and an important gathering place for Black food justice leaders and their allies in Oregon. A third significant reparations opportunity is to make Letitia Carson’s land a satellite location for Oregon Black Pioneers. As a Black-led organization dedicated to preserving and presenting the experiences of African Americans in Oregon, OBP should lead the interpretive direction of the Letitia Carson homestead and long-term management of on-site programming. Letitia’s story is a crucial part of Black history in our state: a Black-led organization should be holding and telling that story on a site they manage.

Mission: 

Through the experiences of Benton County pioneer Letitia Carson, the LCLP presents the labor and sociopolitical position of Black women of the Willamette Valley in the 19th century.

Themes:

  • Slavery and Freedom
  • Where is Home?
  • Lessons on the Land
  • The Pursuit of Justice

Objectives:

  • Reparations and Restorative Justice
  • Education Skill Building
  • Self Determination
  • Environmental Stewardship

Goals:

  • The public will become familiar with Letitia Carson, her time in Benton County’s Soap Creek Valley, and her unprecedented legal battle against Greenberry Smith.
  • 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.

Our Values 

  • The Letitia Carson Legacy Project will be led by and center on the experiences of the Black community in Oregon;

  • Black Oregon Land Trust, Oregon Black Pioneers, and the Linn-Benton Counties NAACP Branch will lead or advise on Project direction, strategy, and resource allocation.

  • The Project will align with and support the values, mission, and activities of the OSU President’s Commission on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff.

  • The Project will respect and honor Indigenous experiences by collaborating with and learning from the original peoples of these lands.

  • Black and Indigenous faculty, students, and staff will be prioritized for teaching, learning, research, professional development, funding, and career advancement opportunities.

  • The Project will have strong faculty and student engagement and extensive external partnerships.

  • The Project’s advisory and governance structures will reflect our commitment to anti-racism, justice, and inclusivity.