The Black Portlanders Project: Illuminating a Vibrant Community

These stunning photographs gave rise to a movement.

Drew and Anthony - "There's a thriving Black community in Oregon?" That's exactly what photographer Intisar Abioto set out to prove in her ambitious photojournalism project, "The Black Portlanders." Keep reading to learn more about this spontaneous, personal project that quickly grew into a viral, transmedia movement. ? Patrice Peck (@speakpatrice)(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

1 / 19

Drew and Anthony - "There's a thriving Black community in Oregon?" That's exactly what photographer Intisar Abioto set out to prove in her ambitious photojournalism project, "The Black Portlanders." Keep reading to learn more about this spontaneous, personal project that quickly grew into a viral, transmedia movement. — Patrice Peck (@speakpatrice)(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Cookie — Portland Native - Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Abioto (not pictured) moved to Portland in 2010. Three years into her stay, she found herself hungry for Black cultural experiences like the ones she had documented as a photographer in Morocco, Jamaica, Washington, D.C., and beyond. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

2 / 19

Cookie — Portland Native - Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Abioto (not pictured) moved to Portland in 2010. Three years into her stay, she found herself hungry for Black cultural experiences like the ones she had documented as a photographer in Morocco, Jamaica, Washington, D.C., and beyond. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Johnny Disciple - "I felt isolated, ghost-like and a shadow of my former artistic self," said Abioto. "Where or how could I connect to the Black cultures here [in Portland]?"(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

3 / 19

Johnny Disciple - "I felt isolated, ghost-like and a shadow of my former artistic self," said Abioto. "Where or how could I connect to the Black cultures here [in Portland]?"(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Alison - Then, in February 2013, an unplanned encounter with a Black woman whose energy caught her attention led Abioto to photograph the woman. During that exchange, Abioto's creative spirit was brought back to life. "This was the beginning of 'The Black Portlanders'," said Abioto. "It reminded me of my true self and my true work. This was the spirit of fun and adventure, the vibrancy, fabulousness, and boldness of life I'd been missing."(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

4 / 19

Alison - Then, in February 2013, an unplanned encounter with a Black woman whose energy caught her attention led Abioto to photograph the woman. During that exchange, Abioto's creative spirit was brought back to life. "This was the beginning of 'The Black Portlanders'," said Abioto. "It reminded me of my true self and my true work. This was the spirit of fun and adventure, the vibrancy, fabulousness, and boldness of life I'd been missing."(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Jordan - Portland currently has a Black population of 6 percent (roughly 35,000 people.) That tiny number dwindles even further for the entire state of Oregon, which has a Black population of 2 percent. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

5 / 19

Jordan - Portland currently has a Black population of 6 percent (roughly 35,000 people.) That tiny number dwindles even further for the entire state of Oregon, which has a Black population of 2 percent. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Marie - Oregon's small population number is largely due to the state's founding. When Oregon was established in 1859, Black people were prohibited from holding real estate, making contracts or simply living in the Western state. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET) 

6 / 19

Marie - Oregon's small population number is largely due to the state's founding. When Oregon was established in 1859, Black people were prohibited from holding real estate, making contracts or simply living in the Western state. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET) 

Henry - This exclusionary law was removed from Oregon's constitution in 1926, but the community continues to battle dispersion and gentrification.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

7 / 19

Henry - This exclusionary law was removed from Oregon's constitution in 1926, but the community continues to battle dispersion and gentrification.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Dawa - "Regardless of the percentage of Black people in Portland or the state of Oregon, we are here and we have been trailblazing since the beginning," Abioto said.  (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

8 / 19

Dawa - "Regardless of the percentage of Black people in Portland or the state of Oregon, we are here and we have been trailblazing since the beginning," Abioto said.  (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Family - Over the course of a year, Abioto has met and photographed more than 500 Black Portlanders. "The beauty of this project is that by highlighting the presence of an 'unseen people,' you show the truth ? a fuller expression of who we all are," said Abioto.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

9 / 19

Family - Over the course of a year, Abioto has met and photographed more than 500 Black Portlanders. "The beauty of this project is that by highlighting the presence of an 'unseen people,' you show the truth — a fuller expression of who we all are," said Abioto.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Billy - "When I photographed Billy he didn?t seem to be able to speak, so I wasn?t able to get his name. I posted his image on the blog and his niece, Mari, and others in the community contacted me with his name," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

10 / 19

Billy - "When I photographed Billy he didn’t seem to be able to speak, so I wasn’t able to get his name. I posted his image on the blog and his niece, Mari, and others in the community contacted me with his name," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Chanticleer Tru - "I ran into Chanticleer Tru on the bus and had to take his portrait. Turns out he?s the amazing vocalist for this awesome Portland-based band Magic Mouth, of which I?m now a huge fan," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

11 / 19

Chanticleer Tru - "I ran into Chanticleer Tru on the bus and had to take his portrait. Turns out he’s the amazing vocalist for this awesome Portland-based band Magic Mouth, of which I’m now a huge fan," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Patricia and Robin - "I photographed these two really cool sisters last summer. It turned out that Robin was Portland?s Black Rose Festival Queen in 1980. You never know who you will run into," said Abioto.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

12 / 19

Patricia and Robin - "I photographed these two really cool sisters last summer. It turned out that Robin was Portland’s Black Rose Festival Queen in 1980. You never know who you will run into," said Abioto.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Monee - On unexpected discoveries: "Last April, I found out that the city of Portland razed North Williams Ave., Portland?s historic geographic Black community. This process occurred throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s. It took me three years after I moved to Portland and two months after I started the Black Portlanders to find out about North Williams," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET) 

13 / 19

Monee - On unexpected discoveries: "Last April, I found out that the city of Portland razed North Williams Ave., Portland’s historic geographic Black community. This process occurred throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s. It took me three years after I moved to Portland and two months after I started the Black Portlanders to find out about North Williams," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET) 

Bruce - "I read Lisa Loving?s Portland Gentrification: The North Williams Avenue That Was? ? ?1956. It identified the hundreds of Black businesses that were lost and never replaced. There?s always so much to continue to discover," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

14 / 19

Bruce - "I read Lisa Loving’s Portland Gentrification: The North Williams Avenue That Was  —  1956. It identified the hundreds of Black businesses that were lost and never replaced. There’s always so much to continue to discover," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Aleesha - On the project's mission: "I?m seeking to show a presence that is not always a part of the wider nationally known story of Portland and Oregon. Celebrating and exploring the uniqueness of who we are, without denigrating others, informs and strengthens the plurality of who we all are, or yet, might be. Celebration and affirmation is my intent," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

15 / 19

Aleesha - On the project's mission: "I’m seeking to show a presence that is not always a part of the wider nationally known story of Portland and Oregon. Celebrating and exploring the uniqueness of who we are, without denigrating others, informs and strengthens the plurality of who we all are, or yet, might be. Celebration and affirmation is my intent," Abioto said.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Arika - To continue "The Black Portlanders Project," Abioto launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign last month to upgrade her camera equipment, purchase a new computer with extended storage and other technical camera and audio equipment. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

16 / 19

Arika - To continue "The Black Portlanders Project," Abioto launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign last month to upgrade her camera equipment, purchase a new computer with extended storage and other technical camera and audio equipment. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Tazia - The project surpassed its initial $15,000 goal thanks to extensive media coverage and an outpouring of supporters. A total of $24,199 has been raised (as of publication), but the campaign still has until March 25 to accept additional contributions.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

17 / 19

Tazia - The project surpassed its initial $15,000 goal thanks to extensive media coverage and an outpouring of supporters. A total of $24,199 has been raised (as of publication), but the campaign still has until March 25 to accept additional contributions.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Luke - "The goal is to continue to affirm through exploratory image making the plethora of who Black people in the diaspora are," said Abioto. "Black people have the full range of possibility, the full range of motion, the full range of story. That is [what's] most exciting to me," said Abioto.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

18 / 19

Luke - "The goal is to continue to affirm through exploratory image making the plethora of who Black people in the diaspora are," said Abioto. "Black people have the full range of possibility, the full range of motion, the full range of story. That is [what's] most exciting to me," said Abioto.(Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

Rie - To learn more about "The Black Portlanders," check out the website, Facebook page and Indiegogo campaign. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)

19 / 19

Rie - To learn more about "The Black Portlanders," check out the website, Facebook page and Indiegogo campaign. (Photo: Intisar Abioto for BET)