This Week in the Mercury


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Senator Margaret Carter Day

Posted by Matt Davis on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 7:01 PM

City council has tonight honored retired North/Northeast Portland state senator Margaret Carter by proclaiming December 16th to be Senator Margaret Carter Day.

STATE SENATOR MARGARET CARTER (CENTER, IN BLUE)—
  • STATE SENATOR MARGARET CARTER (CENTER, IN BLUE)—”"SHE'S QUITE A SNAPPY DRESSER, TOO," SAID ONE SPEAKER
"When the constitution was completed, I was not included in 'we the people'," said Kelvin Hall, a community advocate, introducing proceedings. "Margaret Carter's history reflects the ultimate goal, which is to create a shared community for all."

Carter was born in 1935 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Her father, a homebuilder, was a Baptist minister. In December 1967, Carter came to Portland with her five children, to escape domestic abuse by her first husband. She attained a Masters Degree in educational psychology, began working as a counselor for Portland Community College in 1973, and was elected to the house of representatives in 1984. She resigned her senate seat in August and is now working for the state's department of human services.

"Her first week as a state representative was a rough one," said a minister, introducing Carter. "She was called the 'n' word, she was called a monkey, but she not only went on to serve in the house of representatives but in the senate."

Secretary of State Kate Brown read a letter to Carter from Senate president Peter Courtney. "You said when we met that you would never leave me," she said, quoting the letter. "I thought that we would never break up, but you left. You killed me. I will never recover, and the Oregon legislature will never be the same."

Blazers senior vice president J.Isaac said Carter "works behind the scenes in so many ways." Carter was instrumental in the re-signing of Brandon Roy, Isaac said, because she brings German chocolate cakes to the locker room on occasion. "And we reminded him of that," Isaac joked.

President of Portland Community College Preston Pulliams said Carter served as a role model in the community. He quoted Maya Angelou, saying "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will remember how you made them feel."

"Through her work she has given us scholarship funds. She has given us her time, her advice, and has kept the Urban League going, kept this city going, kept this state going with her passion," said Marcus Mundy, executive director of the Urban League of Portland. "When my wife and I first got to Portland, she served as an ambassador. She looked us up, she made us feel welcome, she told us how to deal with people in this city, how to get connected, and this was a very busy person. I'm very grateful."

Carter was given a bouquet of flowers—"a phenomenal woman deserves phenomenal flowers."

"Success is not measured by the position one has attained, but by the obstacles one has had to overcome," said Roy Jay, chairman of the African American Chamber of Commerce. "Margaret, we love you."

"Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle," said Reverend Doctor LeRoy Haynes, vice president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance. "Like the tireless devotion and passionate concerns of people like Margaret Carter. Her life is a testimony to the virtues of hard work, commitment, education, sacrifice, and to the commitment of godly people."

"I love this state, and I love its people," said Carter. "We have our trials and tribulations, but no society comes without its struggles. I'm truly grateful, and I'm a much better person for your having allowed me to serve with you for all these years. Yes, I'm about to reach my 74th birthday, but as the song goes, I'm not tired yet, and I am not going to sit in a rocking chair in the corner. It ain't over yet. And I can't even promise you that I'm through with politics." "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'm just so thrilled. Thank you, thank you Portland, and the state of Oregon. I love you dearly."

She got two standing ovations, and the presentation lasted 80 minutes—50 minutes longer than the 30 minutes requested. It concluded with a laying-on-of hands. Literally: city council members, along with pastors from all over Portland, laid their hands on Carter's shoulders, and prayed for her.

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