In recent weeks, the community has mourned the passing of Doug Trice followed by widespread protests over systemic racism in our country. We live in Bend now but spent the 1960s and ’70s growing up with the Trice family in La Grande.
To recognize Lucky Trice, Doug Trice and the rest of this gracious family’s many contributions over the years and to partially atone for the racism they no doubt endured during those same years, we believe it would be appropriate to name a local landmark in their honor. Two strong candidates in our view are Pierce Road and the Pierce Library at Eastern Oregon University.
Walter M. Pierce was elected Oregon’s governor in 1922 with the active support of the Ku Klux Klan. While in office, according to oregonencyclopedia.org, Pierce revealed his lifelong racist, anti-immigrant views — tacitly supporting the Klan and backing the anti-Catholic Compulsory School Bill, a measure aimed directly at parochial schools. Pierce promoted a 1923 law directed at immigrant Japanese in Portland and the Hood River Valley, prohibiting aliens from owning or leasing land. He also supported the incarceration of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, campaigning in 1944 and 1945 against the return of Japanese citizens and aliens to their homes.
We encourage the citizens of La Grande and Union County to find a way to honor the Trice family and end the misguided attention given to Walter Pierce.
For more about Pierce and the racism that pervades Oregon’s history, check out www.vimeo.com/230854021.
David and Cindy Morman