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Strides for Social Justice adds two new University of Oregon routes

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In recognition of Black History Month, Strides for Social Justice has added two new routes to its series of local Black history tours.

Now participants can explore the University of Oregon (UO) campus as they learn about extraordinary individuals who fought for justice, broke barriers and opened doors for so many others.

PeaceHealth launched Strides for Social Justice a year ago in collaboration with Eugene Marathon and a community steering committee, including local Black leaders and educators.

In the past year, well over 1,000 people have downloaded the free, family-friendly app to their mobile devices. They have learned about the milestones and contributions of Eugene’s Black residents -- and the injustices many have faced -- as they have toured downtown Eugene, Skinner Butte, South Eugene, Westmoreland Park and West Eugene.

The new routes, which go live Feb. 1, are focused on firsts in athletics and academics by Black UO students, coaches, faculty and staff. The athletics route, which begins at Hayward Field, introduces generations of students, from Bobby Robinson and Charles Williams, UO’s first Black athletes in 1927, to Sydney Lawrence, who became the university’s first Black women’s lacrosse player in 2019.

The academic and student life route begins and ends at the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center, which bears the name of a civil rights activist, UO alumna and beloved former UO student advisor. Participants will meet a range of trailblazers, including Wiley Griffon, the university’s first Black employee, who worked as a janitor at Friendly Hall in the late 1890s; Mabel Byrd, the first Black person to enroll at UO in 1917; and Nellie Louise Franklin, the first Black woman to graduate from the university in 1932.  

As with Strides for Social Justice’s other routes, Denise Thomas, UO alumna and founder of Healthy Moves, demonstrates helpful stretches via video, and Yvette Alex-Assensoh, UO vice president for equity and inclusion, prompts participants to contemplate the steps we can take in our own lives to advance social justice.

“We look forward to collaborating with our partners at Eugene Marathon and the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 to introduce Strides for Social Justice to even more Lane County residents and visitors,” said Todd Salnas, chief executive of PeaceHealth Oregon network.

Eugene Marathon will host guided groups of walkers and runners on the UO athletics route on Saturday, Feb. 19, the one-year anniversary of Strides for Social Justice. The World Athletics Championships Oregon22 will promote Strides for Social Justice on its website, on social media and as part of Making Tracks, its youth engagement program. PeaceHealth is Official Healthcare Supplier of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

For more information, please visit the Strides for Social Justice website.

About PeaceHealth: PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Wash., is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. PeaceHealth has approximately 16,000 caregivers, a group practice with more than 900 providers and 10 medical centers serving both urban and rural communities throughout the Northwest. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. The Sisters shared expertise and transferred wisdom from one medical center to another, always finding the best way to serve the unmet need for healthcare in their communities. Today, PeaceHealth is the legacy of the founding Sisters and continues with a spirit of respect, stewardship, collaboration and social justice in fulfilling its Mission. Visit us online at