“When you come out of a history of segregation you don't willy-nilly think that you can just go to a place,” says African-American ranger Shelton Johnson, sitting on the floor of Yosemite Valley amidst the shadows of Half Dome and El Capitan. Changing that perception for national parks, he elaborates, is part of the same historical flow that brought about the end of Jim Crow laws or the advent of Black Lives Matter.
“This is an extension of the Civil Rights movement. Pure and simple,” he says. “[Reconnecting with the earth] is basically the last act of what it means to become an American.”
February 6, 2017
"While visitors often see national parks as places of serenity, rejuvenation, or adventure, the African-American experience with the outdoors has historically been punctuated by lynchings, flights from slavery and trauma."
"'[There’s] something in our DNA that gives us a fear,' says one of the roughly two dozen Muir Woods hikers. She hadn’t gotten out into nature much until she was in her sixties. 'It just clamps you and grips you.'"