A 2009 survey by the National Parks Service found that of all ethnic groups, African Americans were least likely to have visited one of our national parks in the preceding ten years. That’s a particularly soul-crushing stat when you consider that our nation’s very first park rangers were the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black military battalions who’d already risked their lives for a country that at times barely qualified them as humans. Yet these men were the ones who literally carved out the roads and trails in then-fledgling Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, then set about protecting both visitors and the land and wildlife as well. It was a mission made especially challenging in the face of that era’s entrenched racism.
Numbers aside, for us to assume that there is a fundamental disconnect between the outdoors and African Americans is wrongheaded and dangerous idea. And Rue Mapp is working to change all that.
Rue Mapp is an activist, writer, community organizer, member of the Outdoor Industry Association’s board of directors, a California State Park Commissioner. She’s the winner, alongside President Bill Clinton, of the 2014 National Wildlife Federation Communication award, been anointed one of the most influential African Americans in the country by The Root 100, and, in 2015, was one of Family Circlemagazine’s 20 Most Influential Moms. She’s also worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Let’s Move” program, and is a program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Development. The list goes on. But, primarily, she’s the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, where she oversees a specially trained volunteer leadership team who’s focus is inspiring and celebrating African American’s connections to, and leadership in, nature.
Read the full article in the Daily Beast