It has been widely publicized the absence of African Americans in our National Parks, both in employees and visitors. To counter this trend, Teresa Baker of Outdoor Afro set up a retracing project on the Buffalo Soldiers Trail. “Through this event I hoped to gain the attention of African Americans across the country, so that they would see the benefit of being out in nature, protecting and securing our vital natural resources.”
The contributions made by African Americans to this country through our national parks, often goes unpublicized or unmentioned through any media. Take for instance the Buffalo Soldiers. The Buffalo Soldiers patrolled several national parks and were vital assets during the early stages of development. They patrolled such parks as Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, in California. The first African American Superintendent of a National park, Colonel Charles Young, was stationed at Sequoia National Park. President Barack Obama recently dedicated a National Monument in his honor.
This event showed that African Americans across the country can and will engage in outdoor activities, when they are called upon to do so. Feeling a connection to a cause greater than themselves drew many participants for the first time, out into a national park.
Through the stories and pictures submitted by those who participated, an image developed, an image of African Americans connecting to our national parks in a way that is seldom seen.
The event will take place again this year, June 7th & 8th, which coincidentally is National Trails Day (June 7th). The concept remains the same, pick a park and go. Snap a photo of yourself and post it to our Facebook page: African American National Park Event. Various parks across the country are aware of this event and are making plans to participate.
“I believe this grassroots project is a vital aspect in engaging future stewards of the great outdoors, by reminding all who participated of the legacy our ancestors forged by protecting these grand resources. And in doing so, we ensure their stories will be around for years to come.”
Article by Teresa Baker, Outdoor Afro leader and Founder of African American National Park Event. As an avid hiker and visitor of our national parks, I noticed the absence of African Americans and wanted to do something to change that reality. Thus, African American National Park Event, was born. It’s a simple concept, visit a national park, monument etc., for hiking explorations or educational pursuits.