Larry Anderson stands in front of Laurelhurst Park, recognizing Portland’s rapid changes and the resulting challenges.
“Ain’t nobody going to support us like we support us. We can disagree, but let’s make sure we take care of our community first.”
Looking out for the community
Public service is a way of life for many, whether in elected office or as a first responder: Listening and participating with the community. Engaging with neighbors and learning about their needs. Stepping up to be a voice and advocate for those who have been locked out of opportunities.
A man of the people.
If there’s anyone who stands out, it’s Larry Anderson.
Born and raised in Portland, Larry Anderson’s calling comes with a heavy burden, yet with a 6’6” stature and broad shoulders large enough to fill-in as a concrete median barrier, he is well built for the job.
With a mother who was a registered nurse and a father who was gone days at a time as a brakeman with Union Pacific Railroad, his family eventually bought a house in what is now the gateway to the Alameda-Wilshire District. He remembers moving from one neighborhood where he was among his kin, to standing out from other neighbors; this duality opened his eyes to the injustices of the Black experience in America.
In 1981, Larry was sworn in as an officer with the Portland Police alongside the largest number of Black officers PPB graduated at the time. Even in uniform, he never forgot where he came from.
“One of the things that upset me from the beginning was how some officers that weren’t from my community had a disdain and disrespect for my community. […] And so, I would challenge that on the inside, as well as deal with that on the outside.”
In his first few years after trial and error, he eventually found his voice and learned more about community engagement and policing by taking a hands-on approach and demonstrating a willingness to accept help and criticism from small business owners and elders in the community he served. By working and coaching basketball in the community where he lived, he quickly became a familiar face that was hard to miss.
Looking back, Larry credits his skills, personality, community association and size to developing relationships and building trust in the community he called home. As Portland grew in population over his 30 years as an officer, Larry saw what little Black community remained in North Portland as more were priced out, the same community displaced by infrastructure and land development: A front row show of opportunities lost.
With a passion for economic independence and community building, Larry was tapped to serve as an advisor to Jeff Moreland Sr., owner of Raimore Construction working on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. He built relationships over time so he can become an advocate for business, taking his experience and helping others realize their potential and protect their interests.
Excited about the opportunity for Raimore to become the first Black-owned construction company to obtain one of the largest contracts in ODOT history, Larry wants his community and entrepreneurs to be excited about this Project and the investments that will help small businesses, including DBEs, increase capacity and create sustainable jobs.
Before this project, smaller businesses like DBEs would get little work while the larger contractor simply checked a box to meet goals.
“Now comes a smart owner who grew his business from a DBE to a prime contractor, creating jobs and helping his community become independent. We are the community already. Ain’t nobody going to support us like we support us. We can disagree, but let’s make sure we take care of our community first.”
With Raimore at the helm with the prime contractor, Larry sees an opportunity to leverage capital and put it toward the community as a means toward economic independence.
“If we don’t have economics and the ability to benefit from making a living then we won’t have prosperity. And all the privileges that come from prosperity are denied. We are still benevolent on somebody else because we aren’t self-sufficient as a community. Black culture is seen in media and sports, but we aren’t in business, and we need to change that.”