Thomas Jefferson, More Than Just a Name:

Who do we choose to memorialize in our community? What types of achievements and behavioral characteristics do we place value on? These were the very questions tackled at the most recent Humboldt Neighborhood Association (HNA) meeting, which led to riveting discussion surrounding movement to renew a motion to renew the neighborhood policy stating:

HNA General Meeting, Novemeber 15, 2012 (original motion passed) – November 8, 2017 (renewed) 

“This board is opposed, as a matter of policy, to retaining names of schools and other public institution names for former slave owners or others who did not respect equal opportunity for all. ”Clifford Walker, Humboldt resident and HNA Historian

The HNA discussion was focused on Thomas Jefferson and the local high school named after him. Many revere him as a founding father; the author of the declaration of independence and successful president.

Many, however choose to overlook, or are uninformed of his less publicized side. Thomas Jefferson’s behaviors and writings would lead us to believe that he was a proponent of white supremacy, unopposed to forced sexual encounters (when done within the bounds of his legal rights as a property owner) and was perhaps, one of the earliest eugenicists in modern history.

These starkly juxtaposed positions challenge us as individuals and a community to seriously consider what type of people and things we choose to memorialize. Thomas Jefferson is more than just a name – it’s a statement that represents a legacy, a belief system, personal ethics, and a specific understanding of the world.

These conversations are being held all around the nation and world. From San Francisco to Oklahoma City, India to Paraguay. There is no reason Portland and the Humboldt neighborhood should not be having the same conversations. The Humboldt neighborhood, and Portland as a whole have both led the charge in forward thinking. My experiences have proven that the Humboldt neighborhood exists as a city center for creativity and inclusion. If we wish to continue this legacy- I challenge the community to think twice before willingly sending their children, and tax dollars into buildings named after individuals who promoted the use of slave labor, violence, and championed white supremacy.

Who was Thomas Jefferson? Why was the school named after him? Are there alternative people or things we could name our community school after?

If these questions interest you or you’d like to get involved in the discussion, please join the Humboldt Neighborhood Association and other community members on January 29th at the North Portland Library to discuss where we go from here.

Updated Humboldt Neighborhood Survey Request!


(1) Your neighbors see Humboldt as an historic, educational center with walkable streets and easily accessible local businesses. 

How do you view Humboldt now? 

(2) Your neighbors value Humboldt’s diversity and friendliness, and want to continue community revitalization efforts so these traits are not lost

What do you want Humboldt to be in the future?

Please take the survey below yourself, so that we can better represent you while thinking about a long-term vision for Humboldt Neighborhood!

For more information about the questions and your neighbors’ responses to the 2014 HNA survey, please see the ‘About Humboldt’ Menu Tab above and select the ‘Humboldt Neighborhood Survey’ from the drop down menu to see the results

Monthly Meetings

We are currently looking for enthusiastic members to join The Humboldt Neighborhood Association (HNA).  Come to a monthly meeting to find out more!

Humboldt Neighborhood Association now meets every second WEDNESDAY of the month, 7pm – 9pm  (No meeting in August).


This family friendly meeting always includes renters & businesses, as well as home owners!!

All Neighbors & their children welcome! (please feel free to come for all or part of the meeting) 


New Meeting Location:

Neil Kelly 804 N. Alberta Street on the corner of Albina & Alberta Parking is located behind Neil Kelly and entrance is in the back from the parking lot.


If you’d like to be on the agenda, email us at