PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The second annual In My Shoes walking tours are underway across eight neighborhoods in Portland and Vancouver.
The tours are part of a story-telling campaign happening every Saturday in celebration of Black History Month, being put on by Word is Bond.
“Word is Bond’s mission is: What if young Black men were empowered to their fullest potential? And at Word is Bond, we seek to answer that question by creating dynamic programming that empowers young Black men to live to their fullest abilities and to pursue their freedom dreams,” said Lakayana Drury, founder and executive director of Word is Bond.
Some of the programming teaches young men about public speaking and civic engagement along with school programming like the In My Shoes Tour and the Spring Leadership Forum – taking students to Washington D.C. on a policy and Historically Black College and University tour.
Tour Ambassador, Jahad Hudon, told KOIN 6 News his tour is called “Hidden Truths,” during which he shares his story and experiences as a young Black man in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
“My family’s been in this area for 50-plus years. My great grandma actually bought a house in the neighborhood and for my mom to be able to buy it from her, to save the house, is a great thing to me and to be able to keep the history going,” Hudson said.
Drury described some of the takeaways tour participants come away with explaining, “I talked to a man on Saturday at our first tours and he said that his family had just moved into Columbia neighborhood, and they have white children at the school, but they wanted to better understand experiences of Black youth who live there.”
He added “Portland’s had a history of not being an inclusive city and this is an opportunity for everyday community members to come hear the stories of young Black men – not just one story, we hear about the gun violence on TV and a lot of the negative things, but there’s a lot of hope.”
In My Shoes walking tours run through Feb. 25 covering areas from Vancouver and the Woodlawn neighborhood to Goose Hollow and Montavilla.
Drury added “what these tours are showing is not the negativity, but the opportunity, if we invest in young men like Jahad and look at what they’re doing in their communities and the futures that lie ahead of them. This is an opportunity to have those important conversations.”