In honor of Black History Month this February, we invite you to listen to and lift up Black voices and celebrate diversity in outdoor recreation and nature conservation.

 

Five important bits of history

Did you know…

  •  Rockford’s Anna Page Park is approximately the site where Lewis Lemon (1812-1877) lived after he gained freedom. Lemon was an African American slave who was bought by Germanicus Kent and worked to earn his freedom from slavery. Lewis Lemon, Germanicus Kent, and Thatcher Blake are known as the founders of Rockford, Illinois.

  • George Washington Carver (1864-1943) is regarded as one of America’s greatest agricultural researchers and educators. His innovations in the field of crop rotation are considered breakthroughs in resource conservation by preserving soil and making farms more productive. The George Washington Carver National Monument, located in Missouri, is the first national monument dedicated to an African American.

  • Between 1899 and 1904 approximately 500 African American troops of the 24th Infantry and 9th Calvary served as the first park rangers at Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant (Kings Canyon) National Parks. These men, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, were stewards of some of the most beautiful lands that were made accessible to the public under the American conservation movement.

  • Hazel M. Johnson (1935-2011) is known as the “mother of the environmental justice movement.” Championed primarily by African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans, the environmental justice movement addresses a statistical fact: people who live, work and play in America’s most polluted environments are commonly people of color and the poor. Johnson fought to improve living conditions in Chicago public housing from the 1970s until her death in 2011, and founded the People for Community Recovery, a non-profit environmental organization.

  • Dr. Robert Bullard is often referred to as the “father of the environmental justice movement.” Dr Bullard has authored numerous books on the prominence of waste facilities in predominately African-American areas all over the nation, as well as others that address urban land use, industrial facility siting, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and equity. 

 

Four accounts to follow

Clicking “follow” may seem like a small action, but if you scroll through social media every day, what you see has an impact on how you see and understand the world. These pages are dedicated to Black and BIPOC outdoor enthusiasts. 

 

Three BIPOC Conservationists to know

BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and is used to recognize different groups of people who have been and are impacted by racism and colonialism. 

  • Corina Newsome, Ornithologist and Community Engagement Manager for Georgia Audubon (@hood_naturalist)

  • Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro

  • Lisa Perez Jackson , VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives at Apple and former Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Two podcasts to listen to

Part of being anti-racist is being open to new and different ways of understanding human relationships. 

 

One reminder

Everyone deserves the opportunity to connect with nature. We all play a role in making the outdoors safe, accessible, and welcoming for all identities and abilities. 

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