#FindYourPark, Find Our History: A Collective Call to Action from Outdoor Afro


by Outdoor Afro Leadership Director, Zoë Polk

LET’S read the placards overlooking the Suisun Bay at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and be critical of words like “mutiny” and “riots.”

LET’S dig our hands in the earth at  George Washington Carver National Monument and as we gaze upon his childhood home, remember that our sprouts require fresh clean water, healthy nourishment and deliberate attention in order to survive and thrive.

LET’S look for Mother Harriet in nature, not the statutes and structures, at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park and remember that she used the land, water, and sky to get free.

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LET’S visit the Pullman National Monument and remember the relevance of A. Phillip Randolph’s words “Justice is never given; it is exacted and the struggle must be continuous for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationship.”

LET’S feel at home at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and as we scan the titles of the books in Douglass’ personal library, remember to fill our shelves with our history and herstory.

LET’S take in the majesty of the waterfalls in Yosemite National Park and hold gratitude in our hearts for the Buffalo Soldiers.

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LET’S stop by the Black Voices Museum during our hike up to Storer College at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and listen closely for the voices of the 1896 Colored Women’s League, Jazz musician Don Redman, W.E.B. DuBois, and the Niagara Movement.

LET’S notice each of the bricks in the structures of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site and remember that they were crafted and stacked by our ancestors. And LET’S remember to build.

LET’S bring our binoculars to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and spot our history on the wings of Red Tailed Hawks in the sky.

LET’S embrace the trees at the African Burial Ground National Monument.

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LET’S walk through the National Mall and remember African Americans have always used the outdoors to galvanize and to empower.

LET’S bring our families to the Booker T. Washington National Monument and visualize his mother Jane and her children in that one room kitchen cabin, and remember our homes are our witnesses to our joy, our lessons, and our familial bonds.

LET’S hike the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail and remember that our bodies’ movement has always had a place in The Movement.

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LET’S discover the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and remember that racial justice activists have always been parents, teachers and children.

LET’S open the front doors of the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site and hear her voice as we read her words engraved on her statute in Lincoln Park:

“I leave you love. I leave you hope. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you a thirst for education. I leave you a respect for the use of power. I leave you faith. I leave you racial dignity. I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow men. I leave you a responsibility to our young people.”

LET’S hike along the Black Heritage Trail at the Boston African American National Historic Site and vow to be Revolutionary.

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Do you know the African American history in your local national park? Join Outdoor Afro in healing from and being inspired by black history in the outdoors.

 

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