National Parks

#BlackLivesMatter, Black In National Parks Week, Black Lives Matter, Diversity, National Geographic, National Parks, Podcast, Public Land, Unhidden / 09.03.2022

A few weeks before his 80th birthday, I had the rare pleasure to speak by phone to the 15th director of the National Park Service Robert Stanton. From his home in Maryland, Mr. Stanton shared with me a personal history of his career as a leading figure in the preservation of public land as well as the enduring legacy of our heritage as a nation. Born in 1940, as Black American Stanton was subjected to the racially focused prohibitions of the Jim Crow era that denied him access...

#BlackLivesMatter, Black Lives Matter, Diversity, National Parks, Podcast, Public Land, Unhidden / 18.02.2022

Long before the National Park Service was established, the geological site commonly known as Mammoth Cave in the state of Kentucky was a popular tourist attraction. Open to the public for guided tours beginning in 1830’s this massive labyrinth of underground caverns and tunnels was first explored by enslaved people whose legacy of stewardship spans more than 5 generations. A Black man named Stephen Bishop lead much of the earliest explorations of the cave system and named many of the most prominent features. An expert on the largest...

#BlackLivesMatter, Black In National Parks Week, Black Lives Matter, Capitol Christmas Tree, Deserts, Diversity, National Forests, National Geographic, National Monuments, National Parks, On Assignment, Public Land, Unhidden, Yosemite / 27.12.2021

A few weeks ago, I received a detailed message from my friend and colleague Shelton Johnson. As an interpretive ranger at Yosemite National Park, he expressed to me his concern for the continued preservation of the stories he shares about the U.S. citizens of African descent who protected and patrolled these public lands more than a century ago, the famed Buffalo Soldiers.“I'll be retiring in a few years, and I'm currently the only permanent African American National Park Ranger in the Sierra Nevada which includes both Yosemite and...

#BlackLivesMatter, Black Lives Matter, Books, Capitol Christmas Tree, Choose Outdoors, Diversity, National Forests, National Geographic, National Monuments, National Parks, Unhidden / 03.12.2021

Earlier this week I met for lunch at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. with my new editor Allyson Johnson from National Geographic. A few weeks ago we finalized the details of a contract for me to write an ambitious new journal that shares the enduring legacy of Black American history as interpreted by the National Park Service. In part inspired by the Negro Motorist Green-Book published by Victor Hugo Green from 1936 through 1966, this project aims to reveal the hidden stories of our common heritage as citizens...

#BlackLivesMatter, Black Lives Matter, Commentary, Diversity, National Monuments, National Parks, Outdoors For All, Public Land, Yosemite / 04.10.2021

Long before the National Parks were established in 1916, Black Americans men and women worked tirelessly to preserve the public lands that many of us today deem sacred. Though directly engaged as combatants in the Plains Wars that displaced Native Americans for the sake of westward expansion, people of African descent, many of whom toiled under the oppressive yoke of slavery, also cherished the sweeping landscapes and natural settings where we now visit for recreation and solace. That enduring legacy of environmental stewardship continues in the present through...

#BlackLivesMatter, Black Lives Matter, Diversity, Ice Age Trail, Magazines, National Parks, Sierra Club, Winter, Wisconsin / 07.03.2021

In and of itself, the journey across Wisconsin’s Ice Age National Scenic Hiking Trail is a monumental undertaking. But the 1,200-mile walk from Potawatomi State Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan, to the St. Croix River at the Minnesota border is made all the more daunting by the deep snow and frigid temperatures of a Wisconsin winter. Despite the hazards posed by prolonged exposure, thru-hiker Emily Ford, who set out from the eastern terminus in January, remains determined to complete the almost-three-month-long trek. If she completes her journey,...