Pittock Mansion presents a public lecture by historian Stephanie Vallance, “Letitia Carson in Court: The Unlikely Story of Resistance and Resilience in Early Oregon,” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at 3229 N.W. Pittock Drive, Portland. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
It seems remarkable that a Black woman in 1843 would file suit against a white man—let alone win—yet that’s exactly what happened. Vallance tells the extraordinary story of Letitia Carson who, despite state-sanctioned racism and anti-Black sentiment, won two court cases against Greenberry Smith, her wealthy, white, land-owning neighbor. How and why Carson emerged successful illuminates the mostly untold story of Black women in the history of Northwest settlement and the racial and political landscape of Oregon’s early statehood.