Teressa Raiford is a fourth generational native of Portland, Oregon. Growing up an inner-city youth in the Irvington/Alberta neighborhood, she was exposed to violence, housing displacement, discrimination and racism early on. When she was 11 years old, her grandparents’ restaurant was terrorized when officers of the Portland Police Bureau killed a family of possums and dumped their remains on the property in an effort to convince the Black entrepreneurs to shut down their business [December 5th, 1981]. This graphic encounter changed her perspective and heightened her self-awareness to the injustices around her.
Teressa and her siblings grew up being jostled in and out of foster centers and group homes. These experiences proved to Teressa how insufficient the city’s outreach agencies truly were - she knew many in her marginalized community who had also been let down by the states’ services.
By the time she became a mother, Teressa recognized her generation had been left behind - the city’s bureaus and direct services to residents were simply ineffective.
“These systemic failures should require a direct approach that engages those most vulnerable and helps them become educated in civic process.” - Teressa Raiford, Mayoral candidate 2020
Civic engagement matters.
Teressa believes this because she has hosted hundreds of dialogues in Portland and other parts of the country to promote social and racial equity as an engineer of movement organizing. Gun violence was one of the first issues she tackled head on, as she had been affected by its particular trauma all of her life.
Following her nephew’s tragic murder in 2010, she began to rally and advocate heavily for public safety, demanding accountability from lawmakers, justice focused agencies and social outreach systems. In 2013, she was invited to the White House for a State of the Union event which eventually led to a meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama. It was this discussion that ultimately proved Teressa’s ability to uplift the unheard voices of those affected by state violence to our nation’s lawmakers.
Her non-profit, Don’t Shoot Portland, provides no-cost services for legal support, advocates for families affected by gun violence and works to develop movements for youth and vulnerable communities. Her philanthropy within the city is well known; DSP was recently voted Portland’s Best Community Driven Non-Profit by Willamette Weekly this summer.
Teressa has been a staunch advocate for education and public schooling as well; standing up for educators and communities statewide. Showing up at city halls, state Capitols and state work group committee meetings, Teressa demanded audits surrounding equity, public safety, police accountability and state interagency access for victims of violence.
Working with labor movements, nonprofits and state funded agencies, Teressa has been able to create a platform for community members who had been unheard by promoting civic education and direct engagement. Teressa will focus on providing humane and effective solutions to the houseless crisis, fight for living wages, do the most for renters’ rights and create true racial justice in our city.
Help us build a community of real equity and justice here in Portland. Join us in electing Teressa Raiford for Mayor in 2020!