EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene’s African-American history isn’t as thoroughly documented as some other cities’, but Lane Community College students and historians are working to change that by remembering the city’s first documented black resident.
Wiley Griffon was the first African American mentioned by name as a resident of Eugene. He was buried at the Eugene Masonic Cemetery, but his gravestone was lost decades ago. LCC’s Black Student Union, working with the I Am Too Eugene history project, raised funds to purchase and place a new headstone for Griffon.
“He wasn’t the only African American here, but he was the first one mentioned by name,” says Mark Harris of I Am Too Eugene. “I think this is the least we could do to recognize and remember out loud this man.”
Griffon’s gravestone photo was pulled from a newspaper article about his work as an animal-drawn trolley operator.