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Richard Hunter Oral History Interview

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Richard Hunter Oral History Interview


In this interview, Richard Hunter begins by talking about his childhood, especially his experiences growing up poor in a mostly Black neighborhood and attending predominantly Black schools. He also discusses his parents’ background and upbringing, their education, and how they came to Portland to work in the shipyards. He focuses particularly on his father’s membership and involvement with the Masonic lodge, including how he founded a lodge for Black members in 1945. Hunter goes on to reflect on his experience growing up as a pastor’s kid and his experience growing up in a large Black community. He then discusses his education and reflects on how he often had difficulties in school because his teachers did not understand him or his culture, although he did find a love of music in school, and played the trumpet starting in the 7th grade and continued playing in bands throughout high school. He then describes how college didn’t work out for him, how he started using drugs, and how he was turned away from this life through a religious experience that led him to pastoring.

From there, Hunter reflects on his personal views on faith and church communities. He then talks about the variety of jobs he had when he was young in addition to pastoring, as well as how he tried to pastor full-time but decided this was a mistake due to the financial burden it placed on him. He then goes on to describe in detail his first marriage, including how they met, how he navigated their large age difference, and the marital conflicts that led to their separation and eventual divorce. He then goes on to describe the feelings that led him to change careers and start working in community services. Hunter goes into detail describing his work in affordable housing and community development as part of a neighborhood association. As part of this, he explains the circumstances under which he met his second wife. He then goes on to reflect on why that marriage also failed, and how he married her for the wrong reasons. Hunter describes his son’s gang involvement, as well as how his son overcame that and now works to help kids get out of gangs. Towards the end of the interview, Hunter describes his later career, working in community development, community services, and employment services, before working at the Oregon Department of Transportation. He then goes on to talk about his life in retirement. Hunter finishes the interview by reflecting on how fondly he remembers his childhood and being part of a large community, and how his favorite part of his adult life was his community involvement and work to make his community a better place.

Richard Hunter was born in Portland, Oregon in 1953. The son of a pastor, Hunter grew up as one of ten siblings, and often had to share tight quarters. Hunter grew up in a largely Black neighborhood and attended mostly Black schools, where he learned to play the trumpet and developed a love of music. After a brief and unsuccessful stint in college, Hunter turned to drugs. At the age of 21, he had a religious experience that turned him away from drug use and led him to pursue his calling and become a pastor. While he did once try to pastor full-time, due to financial needs he spent most of his life pastoring part-time while also working. During his early years, Hunter worked a variety of jobs related to vocational training in civil engineering that he received in high school, but his primary employer at the time was the Highway Division. Around this time, he married his first wife, with whom he had three kids. After a period of working in transportation and the service industry, Hunter decided he wanted to pursue a career more related to his pastoring and began work as a case manager for community assistance programs. Around 1990, he began to work with his neighborhood association to build affordable housing in the area. Hunter later ended up working in employment services for a time, before returning to work for the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. Hunter retired in 2016, at the age of 62. He continued to pastor for a few more years, but at the time of the interview was planning to stop pastoring to focus on writing a book.


Richard Hunter


Oregon Black Pioneers Oral History Collection (OH 42)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


November 11, 2019


Ruth Kornberg


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Ruth Kornberg


Richard Hunter


Hunter residence, Portland, Oregon

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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