Albina Murals

Streaming Media

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Original Format

Digital transfer from color Super 8


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The murals, created by local artists, depict scenes from African American history, with special attention to the Northwest and Portland. The project represents an important example of the power of the intersection of community, public art and public history. This is the only know film documentation of the mural panels which were removed in 1983.

On February 10th, 1978, the panels of the Albina Murals were dedicated to the public in Portland, Oregon, the result of a yearlong collaboration among 7 artists of color working to craft a community monument to African American history. The murals, which were funded by CETA (the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973), hung from 1978 till 1983 on the exterior walls of the Albina Human Resource Center in the heart of North Portland’s Albina neighborhood. The artists, Isaac (now Isaka) Shamsud-Din (project director and mural painter), Charles Tatum (sculptor and project assistant director), Henry Frison (mural painter)), Chonita Henderson Smith (mural painter), Jenny Harada Allen (mural painter), Larry Scott (assistant mural painter), and Darryl Clegg (project documentarian), focused on capturing climactic moments important for the community. Five mural panels depicted different points in African American history, with special attention to the Northwest and Portland. The panels showed the African slave trade, the migration of Black settlers to the Northwest at the end of the 19th century, the movement of African American workers and their families to Portland in the 1940s to work in the war effort, the disastrous Vanport flood of 1948, and the African American civil rights movement of the 1960s. The project also included one bas-relief wood sculpture, more abstract than the murals, that focused on Black shipbuilders in the 1940s, drawing the themes of African American history and labor history together.

Unfortunately, in the early 1980s, the murals began to deteriorate from their exposure to Portland’s rainy climate, and the damaged panels were removed from the building by the artists in 1983. As a result, the murals survive for public viewing only in photographic form and in this documentary film, preserved and digitally transferred with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.


Closing music over the film credits has been removed on this streaming video. The downloadable access copy, below, and the original film retain the closing music.

Filmmakers: Christopher Bangs, Richard Caplan, Lan Fendors, Gary Eppelsheimer, Donna Schatz

Related Resource

For further reading on the Albina Mural Project:

  • Robin J. Dunitz, “Albina Mural Project,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 111.4 (Winter 2010), p. 486.
  • James Prigoff & Robin J. Dunitz, Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride: African American Murals (Pomegranate Communications, 2000).

Persistent Identifier

Albina Murals.mpg (914732 kB)
Access Video (.mpg)