January 2007: As a kid growing up in Lane County, Nancy Bray earned summer spending money picking beans in area farm fields. “I became aware that there were families out there picking for their basic needs,” she says. Bray volunteered with the Migrant Ministry while in high school, and, later, at the University of Oregon, she boycotted the EMU for serving non-United Farm Workers union lettuce. Since graduation, she has taught in Springfield schools for 30 years. When she began teaching English language learners in the mid-’90s, one of her first bilingual assistants was Guadalupe Moreno, recently arrived from Baja California. “I had two years of English classes at LCC,” Moreno says. “I was lucky to get the job and help the Latino community.” Since 2003, Bray and Moreno have worked together as director and coordinator of the Lane Education Service District’s Migrant Education Program, providing educational and social service support to children of migrant workers.
2022 update: After retirement from Springfield schools in 2009, then four years working in UO’s Education Studies, Bray joined the board of her neighborhood association, Friendly Area Neighbors (FAN). “I was a founding member of the FAN Equity Action Team,” she notes. “We were concerned about increasing racist graffiti and vandalism. Our first project was a yard sign: ‘All are Welcome Here — Honoring Diversity and Human Rights.’ The signs are popular in the neighborhood.” Then, in 2017, Friendly area neighbor Dr. Ed Coleman II died. A UO professor of English and folklore who taught African American literature, an acoustic bassist who toured with jazz bands, a civil rights activist and a UO track and field official, Coleman was recognized by the Eugene City Council, who renamed the Westmoreland Park Community Center in his honor. “Our team decided to put a mural on the building,” Bray reports. “We applied for a grant from the city and easily raised matching funds. We interviewed Ed’s wife, Charmaine, and others, and hired muralist Jessilyn Brinkerhoff, who designed the mural and finished it in 2019.” The mural depicts Coleman as a musician and an English professor. It was so successful that the team landed a larger grant for two additional murals. “It used to be a drab building,” Bray raves, “and now it’s gorgeous!” View the murals online at FriendlyAreaNeighbors.org/dr-edwin-coleman-jr-center-mural-project.html.