Lately, I’ve found myself thinking out loud about the lessons I learned from watching my parents, Frederick Douglas and Bobbi Lou Gary, live their lives in a time of compromised options for African-Americans in Oregon. My father held a government job so that my mother was free from work worries and could engage in making the city better for their daughters, and everyone else’s.

I learned about social justice every day; it was the main ingredient at the dinner table. My parents put their time, their talents, and their money where their mouths were: talking about, advocating for, and funding a progressive, socially-just and more inclusive Portland, and Oregon. They were creating their legacy in their daily lives — they were living their legacy.

Imagine my pleasure to recently sit and have an eye-opening talk with a very wise man and woman who looked nothing like my parents, yet sounded so much like them.

We talked about building and leaving a legacy, and it included leaving money (they have named MRG in their will) but it was about more than money. They spoke with such conviction about giving versus charity. They spoke about how important it was to them to be well-informed about progressive work throughout our state, to have engaged in moving healthcare for all, and demonstrating to their children how they could make the world better by serving others. They talked about having done work alongside my mother on issues they all cared about.

They talked about the power of building a legacy; affirming and even challenging me to continue to be about legacy building and living my legacy, as my parents had. They are willing to do the work and also pay for it. In the end, they spoke of wanting to support their convictions by funding social justice and change.

They reminded me that although they and my parents came from different places and had different life experiences, our families share similar viewpoints, dreams and values. And they crossed paths decades ago, in part via MRG Foundation.

I realized that’s what we do at MRG Foundation: we have created a progressive community that gives space for social justice work to be informed, supported and validated. We work to ensure that our state is stronger, more interconnected and promotes equity for all of us in order to truly move forward.

Imagine the legacy we are living together now. Imagine the legacy we are leaving together.

I can hardly wait.

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