95-year-old Ranger, Millennial Youth Share National Park Adventures at CBC
Congressman Alcee Hastings (c) with from left former NPS Director Bob Stanton, Audrey Peterman, Betty Reid Soskin, Clarence Fluker, Rachel Stewart, Dr. Carolyn Finney and Supt. Cassius Cash.
I heard 95-year-old Ranger Betty Soskin whose American experience spans more than half of the 240 years since we became a Republic – her enslaved grandmother being a role model in her life till she was 27. The sprightly ranger who not only worked in the Richmond shipyards during WWII but returned to lead the creation of the park commemorating that legacy said, “The National Park System attracts and educates the middle class. So if we want more people of color to utilize our parks, we can start by bringing more of us into the middle class.”
. . . As I listened to their stories, I felt gratified by the myriad different ways these Americans relate to our national parks. Sponsored by Congressman Alcee Hastings, the session “Creating Communities for Conservation: The Legacy of African Americans in the National Park System,” was put together by Frank and me as members of the Next100 Coalition. Proceeds from the session will go to the Congressional Black Caucus Brain Trust to address how the Park Service could do a better job of engaging the full diversity of the American public.