Posted on June 11, 2008

‘Black Guy’ Booth Livens Up Corvallis Saturday Market

Kyle Odegard, Corvallis Gazette-Times, June 1, 2008

The booths at the Saturday Corvallis Farmers’ Market have a wild mix of fresh produce, tasty food, plants and flowers.

But this week, a table just outside the bazaar offered something more bizarre—“Meet a Black Guy.”

Those who participated in the free service could chat with 21-year-old Corvallis resident Jeff Oliver, and get pictures taken with him.

“It’s a statement about diversity in Corvallis. It’s not a very diverse place,” said Oliver, a lifelong Oregonian. He hoped to promote understanding, break stereotypes and perhaps even provide a comedic moment for hundreds of people strolling along the riverfront.

The booth drew a mixed reaction, however.

“I think this is hysterical. The entire market’s great,” said Jeremy Stand of the Bronx, who was in Corvallis to visit family. Oregon, in general, is a pretty Caucasian place, he said.

“It’s a clever way of engaging people with dialogue about the need for more diversity in the community. It kind of caught me by surprise,” said Annette Mills, who moved to Corvallis more than a year ago.

Sherry Littlefield of Corvallis said the booth was unnecessary. She and friend Ron Naasko said they have black friends, and would be voting for Barack Obama for president.