Free Speech Plaza

Free Speech Plaza

Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza

As you pass by this building and plaza, consider how state and local laws affected Black people who wanted to settle here.Drawn to Eugene to work for the railroad or timber industry, to farm Willamette Valley’s fertile soils or to attend the University of Oregon, Black people faced the challenges of finding a place to spend the night and ultimately to live.

Oregon’s exclusion law prohibiting Blacks from being in the state, owning property and making contracts became moot with the passage of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, the language wasn’t repealed until 1926 and real estate covenants calling for white-only ownership lasted until 1988 and the state constitution retained some racist terms until 2002.

Architectural Information

DeNorval Unthank Jr., the first Black graduate from the University of Oregon School of Architecture (1951), contributed to the design of the Lane County Courthouse building.


· Oregon Encyclopedia: a project of the Oregon Historical Society:

· The Register-Guard, A legacy of perseverance, Jan. 30, 2011

Wayne Morse

Serving 24 years in the US Senate, from 1945-1969, Morse famously opposed the 1957 Civil rights act, describing it as an “unconscionable compromise.” Morse can be remembered as a principled senator who believed it was his responsibility to "seek to translate into legislation values that promote the welfare of people."

Directions to the next stop

Turn right on 8th St. In two blocks, turn left onto Olive St. Proceed straight ahead until you reach Rosa Parks Plaza and the main LTD station at the SE corner of 10th and Olive.