Podcast | The sneakerheads changing America’s whitest big city

The founders of Portland's Deadstock Run Club are creating a space for people of color to connect and get active.

A coffee drink with a image of a tennis shoe in the foam

A coffee drink topped with a stenciled sneaker at Deadstock Coffee in Portland, Oregon. (Sarah Hall)

As home to one of our most storied track and field destinations, one of the most celebrated runners in American history and arguably the greatest sneaker brand in the world, Oregon is a natural place to start a running club. 

That Ian Williams and Amir Armstrong started the Deadstock Run Club out of a coffeeshop in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, then, might not seem too surprising. That is until you consider another, much more disturbing aspect of Oregon history: its hostility toward people of color, in particular Black people. 

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For instance, in the 19th century, the state passed three Black exclusion laws. These were later rescinded, but even during the 20th century Klan demonstrations and cross burnings were common throughout the state.

For this episode of the Out & Back podcast, host Alison Mariella Désir visits the coffee shop where it all started to talk with Williams and Armstrong about how a love of sneakers and coffee fueled a community that is giving people of color a place to gather and get active.

Before listening, we suggest you watch the Out & Back episode about the Deadstock Run Club here.


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