Portland State University

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Pauline Bradford

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Area(s) of Achievement

Activism, Education




Portland's Black Women Civil Rights Pioneers

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Pauline Bradford

Born in Greenville, Miss., Bradford came to Portland in the 1940s for work in the shipyards.  After the war, she took the Federal Exam, scored high, but did not receive a call until 1951 and then as a temporary worker during tax season. She and two others were the first African Americans hired by the IRS. She remained until she became pregnant in 1954. At that time women were not granted maternity leave. In 1956 she worked for US Dept. of Agriculture as a Fiscal Clerk and later as the first African/American Female Market News Truck Reporter.  At 36 years old, she went back to school, one of the first students to take advantage of a new Portland Community College transfer program. While working at the US Court House, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Education at Portland State University. She became a teacher at Peninsula Elementary School, where she taught until her retirement in 1989.  She has a strong connection to Albina and the Eliot neighborhood where she has lived for fifty years.  She is Past President of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, a coalition of 12 Neighborhood Associations and she remains on the Board representing the Eliot Neighborhood Associations.  She has long been active in the Association of Colored Women’s Clubs & Youth Affiliates (the oldest African American women’s organization in the U.S., founded in 1896).  First elected President of the Oregon chapter in 1982 she served several subsequent terms and was also elected to a term as President of the Northwest Region of the Association. Currently, she is a member of the National Board of the Association.

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