12 Jul The Ascending Spiral Staircase of Chaos~ an interview with Ranger Betty Reid Soskin
At 95 years young National Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin is a national treasure. Stationed at the Rosie The Riveter/World War II Homefront National Historic Park in Richmond, California she interprets the cultural narrative of life in America during one of the most turbulent periods in time. Drawing on her personal experience through the 1940s she offers a compelling look into the past that helps us to understand who we are today and chart a course toward a brighter tomorrow. As an African-American woman who endured and survived the racially motivated oppression of previous generations, Ranger Soskin offers young people of color especially the hope and motivation to become leaders and role models themselves in the future.
Ranger Soskin addressed a gathering of more than 200 young people of color at an event called the PGM ONE Summit in Berkeley, California. PGM stands for People of the Global Majority, an emerging new generation of black and brown people around the world who are mobilizing to achieve lasting social change. Much like those of her generation who rallied to confront the threat of foreign armies during World War II Soskin wants the young people of today to stand up against the rising challenges of the 21st century.
“I’ve live now for almost 96 years. And what I have learn in those 96 years is the fact that ever since 1776 my nation has experienced an upward spiral, ciclical periods of chaos,” Soskin said. “And it’s in those periods of chaos that democracy is redefined. We’re in another one of those now. Those periods provide opportunities to reset the buttons, allows us to redefine what demoncracy means. And to get on with the project of forming that more perfect union.”
After so many years of life experience in this country Ranger Soskin understands that the great experiment of democracy is an ongoing process. Like ascending a spiral staircase we wind our way round and round, getting higher and higher though we seem to find ourselves in the same place time and time again. And here we are back to once more test and redefine the integrity of American democracy. We’ve here before.
Right after her talk in Berkeley Ranger Soskin shared with me her thoughts on our history and the roles each us may play to protect the legacy of our future.