History

Unite Oregon represents the merger of two strong organizations – Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO) and Oregon Action (OA) – who together have decades of experience organizing immigrants, refugees, people of color, and low-income Oregonians to address racial and economic disparities and improve quality of life in our state.

Over the years, we have found that state’s population of largely urban and suburban immigrants, refugees, and people of color have a great deal in common with low-income rural communities—a growing economic inequality and lack of access to opportunity. However, urban models of community organizing do not easily translate to rural communities, and deep differences in language, culture, and world-view exist, keeping potential allies from working together for solutions. Having collaborated for over ten years, Center for Intercultural Organizing and Oregon Action decided to join forces to stem and reverse this tide, and act in concert on issues of joint concern.

History of Center for Intercultural Organizing (2003-2015)

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Founded by Portland-area immigrants and refugees, the Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO) was originally established to combat widespread anti-Muslim sentiment after 9/11. On September 8, 2002, authorities arrested a well-known Portland Imam at the airport—Sheik Mohamed Abdirahman Kariye, spiritual leader of the As-Saber Mosque (Masjed As-Saber)—falsely claiming his brother’s luggage contained traces of TNT. CIO’s founders organized a multicultural march and protest outside the federal building in downtown Portland, attended by local Muslims and other activists.

In subsequent years, CIO continued organizing against the targeting and profiling of Muslims and other groups, while broadening its focus toward building power in immigrant and refugee communities through community education, civic engagement and policy advocacy, organizing and mobilization, and intergenerational leadership development.

CIO engaged thousands of individuals from diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, trained new immigrant and refugee community leaders, produced hundreds of educational events and mobilized countless immigrant and refugee community members to participate in civic life. Center for Intercultural Organizing is proud to build upon this history by joining with Oregon Action to create Unite Oregon.

History of Oregon Action (1980-2015)

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Formed in 1980 as Oregon Fair Share, Oregon Action was a statewide broad-based, multi-racial community organization dedicated to addressing economic and racial justice issues. With chapters in Portland Metro and Rogue Valley (Southern Oregon), Oregon Action historically emphasized organizing people to advocate on their own behalf, especially members of historically disenfranchised communities and low income Oregonians. Through leadership development and community organizing, Oregon Action provided the organizational base for participatory democracy, just communities, and a fair economy in Oregon. Through its work on economic and racial justice, Oregon Action has trained hundreds of leaders throughout the state and engaged more than 7,000 Oregon Action members. Oregon Action is exited to join forces with Center for Intercultural Organizing to create Unite Oregon.