Our Statement Regarding the National Monuments & Antiquities Act

Bears Ears

Bears Ears – Photo: Utah Public Radio

President Obama made land conservation a priority under his administration and, in the process, educated millions about the importance of preserving wilderness. His stewardship was part of a long legacy of African Americans who have loved, cared for and protected American soil.
To that end, leaders of the Outdoor Industry, including our CEO and Founder, Rue Mapp, spent time in Washington D.C. last week speaking to congress and the administration around the importance of protecting your public lands.
As many of you have heard, the current administration recently signed an executive order calling for a review of about 30 national monuments over 100,000 acres since 1996.
We want our community to be informed and empowered advocates to protect public lands with policymakers in Washington D.C., as well as in their states, counties, cities, and towns.
We also wanted to take a moment and share with you what we believe as it relates to our public lands:

  • We encourage national, regional & local leaders to protect America’s public lands & waters, including recreational opportunities & the jobs they support.
  • We defend the protection of sacred public lands and the communities that depend on them.
  • We recognize the need to protect wildlife and their habitats as part of a healthy human ecosystem, while also supporting lawful and sustainable hunting and fishing practices.

We encourage you to learn more about this by checking out these resources:

Finally, take a minute and watch this video by our partner, REI
#UnitedOutside #MonumentsForAll

https://www.facebook.com/REI/videos/10155245608841484/

Introducing the 2017 Outdoor Afro Leadership Team!

In its Sixth Year, the Outdoor Afro Leadership Team Grows to 65 Leaders and Expands to 27 states.

Since it was founded in 2011, the Outdoor Afro Leadership Team has brought together volunteers that embody the promise and passion to write a new and different narrative about Black engagement in the outdoors.   The 2017 Leadership Team unites teachers, lawyers, tech sector consultants, artists, business owners, culinary experts, nonprofit professionals, G-men and women, parents, grandparents, gardeners, kayakers, backpackers, climbers, snowboarders,  swimmers, campers, mountain bikers, and picnic lovers committed to ensuring that African Americans enjoy all of the benefits of nature.
To date,  Outdoor Afro has recruited, trained and connected more than 100 Black outdoor leaders from cities around the country. In 2017, we are proud to be expanding to new cities including Birmingham, Honolulu, and Detroit.
In April 2017, the Leadership Team will take part in the annual training at National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  In addition, our leaders will hike history in Harpers Ferry National Park and acquire skills to steward relationships between Black communities and their green spaces.
Outdoor Afro is deeply grateful to our sponsors including REI, KEEN Footwear, Klean Kanteen,  ColumbiaGo RvingNational Wildlife Federation – California, The North Face, Osprey,  US Fish and Wildlife Service and Yakima.

Outdoor Afro Team Leadership

 

Zoë Polk

Outdoor Afro National
Program Director
6th Year Leader
San Francisco, CA

Matt Reese

Outdoor Afro
Partnership Director
3rd Year Leader
Seattle, WA

Yanira Castro

Outdoor Afro
Communications Director
2nd Year Leader
Charlotte, NC

 

2017-2018 Outdoor Afro Regional Leads

 

Beky Branagan

Regional Lead West
6th Year Leader
Cary, NC

Brittany Leavitt

Regional Lead Northeast
3rd Year Leader
Baltimore, MD

Ray Smith

Regional Lead South
2nd Year Leader
Washington, DC

Duane Williams

Regional Lead South
2nd Year Leader
Washington, DC

 

2017 Outdoor Afro Leadership Team Roster

 

Alabama

 

Olivia Affuso

1st Year Leader
Birmingham, AL

Kellie Clark

1st Year Leader
Birmingham, AL

 

California

 

Lakeisha Brooks

1st Year Leader
Oakland, CA

Moleek Busby

1st Year Leader
Oakland, CA

Ivan Guillory

2nd Year Leader
Los Angeles, CA

Julius Crowe Hampton

2nd Year Leader
Oakland, CA

Zoë Polk

6th Year Leader
San Francisco, CA

Cliff Sorrell

6th Year Leader
Hercules, CA

Nina Thiebert

3rd Year Leader
Oakland, CA

Jennetta Thomas

1st Year Leader
Los Angeles, CA

 

Colorado

 

Kriste Peoples

2nd Year Leader
Denver, CO

Roz Silva

2nd Year Leader
Boulder, CO

Jalen Bazile

2nd Year Leader
Florissant, CO

 

Connecticut

 

Mercy Quaye

1st Year Leader
New Haven, CT

 

Florida

 

James Little

2nd Year Leader
Jacksonville, FL

Ta-Shana Taylor

2nd Year Leader
Miami, FL

Mayowa Ogunjobi

1st Year Leader
Tallahassee, Florida

Yanique Richards

1st Year Leader
Lakeworth, FL

 

Georgia

 

Tammy Shakur

2nd Year Leader
Atlanta, GA

Wandi Steward

3rd Year Leader
Columbus, GA

 

Illinois

 

Christine Meissner

1st Year Leader
Chicago, IL

Val Morrow

2nd Year Leader
Oak Park, IL

 

Hawaii

 

Rachel Collier

1st Year Leader
Honolulu, HI

 

Kentucky

 

Alicia Hurle

2nd Year Leader
Louisville, KY

Gerry James

1st Year Leader
Frankfurt, KY

 

Maryland

 

Monette Bailey

1st Year Leader
Baltimore, MD

Brittany Leavitt

3rd Year Leader
Baltimore, MD

Melody Mckinley

2nd Year Leader
Baltimore, MD

 

Massachusetts

 

Chaya Harris

2nd Year Leader
Baltimore, MD

 

Michigan

 

Alexis Adams-Wynn

1st Year Leader
Detroit, MI

Patrice Lopez-Smith

1st Year
Leader Detroit, MI

 

Minnesota

 

Alora Jones

2nd Year Leader Minneapolis, MN

Greg Shuck

2nd Year Leader
St. Paul, MN

Stephen Scott

2nd Year Leader Minneapolis, MN

 

Missouri

 

Anthony Beasley

1st Year Leader
St. Louis, MO

Duane Williams

3rd Year Leader
St. Louis, MO

 

New Jersey

 

Kasim Carter

1st Year Leader
Montclair, NJ

 

New Mexico

 

Ariel Elliot

1st Year Leader
Albuquerque, NM

Leandra Taylor

1st Year Leader
Albuquerque, NM

 

Nevada

 

Satara Cooley

1st Year Leader
Las Vegas, NV

Toyya Mahoney

2nd Year Leader
Las Vegas, NV

 

New York

 

Katina Grays

2nd Year Leader
New York, NY

 

North Carolina

 

Cheryl Baker

1st Year Leader
Charlotte, NC

Beky Branagan

6th Year Leader
Cary, NC

Yanira Castro

2nd Year Leader
Charlotte, NC

 

Ohio

 

Kimberly Smith-Woodford

2nd Year Leader
Cleveland, OH

 

Pennsylvania

 

Keenan Corrigan

1st Year Leader
Philadelphia, PA

Tarik Moore

1st Year Leader
Lewisburg, PA

Miriah Royal

1st Year Leader
Lewisburg, PA

Paul Starling

1st Year Leader
Philadelphia, PA

 

South Carolina

 

Adrienne Troy Frazier

3rd Year Leader
Charleston, SC

Mel Murdock

1st Year Leader
Charleston, SC

 

Texas

 

Olatunde Gbolahan

2nd Year Leader
Austin, TX

Tiffany Stoker

1st Year Leader
Dallas, TX

Starla Simmons

2nd Year Leader
Austin, TX

 

Virginia

 

Leah Young

2nd Year Leader
Fairfax, VA

 

Washington

 

Karimah Knowles

2nd Year Leader
Seattle, WA

Matt Reese

3rd Year Leader
Seattle, WA

 

Washington D.C.

 

Charles Taylor

3rd Year Leader
Washington, DC


Ray Smith
3rd Year Leader
Washington, DC

 

Wisconsin

 

Cheryl Mitchell

2nd Year Leader
Milwaukee, WI

 

Would you like to invest in Relevant, Community-based Outdoor Leadership? Click Here to Make a Tax Deductible Donation to Our Work!

Outdoor Afro is Hiring! – Oakland, CA

Title: Donor and Project Experience Coordinator

Type: Part-time, administrative

Location: Oakland, California

Application Window:  Open until filled

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What is Outdoor Afro?

Outdoor Afro uses innovation and entrepreneurial insight to engage African-Americans of all ages in empowering experiences in the outdoors by dismantling seemingly intractable social and cultural barriers. Our dynamic approach has attracted a variety of partnerships and resources, spurring consistent growth that has enabled us to become a national influencer in outdoor recreation.

Founded from a blog in 2009, Outdoor Afro has since built a national community and leadership team across 26 states that has helped us to advance social and policy imperatives to transform African-Americans’ relationship with nature, and cultivate an ethic and practice of conservation.

With both staff and volunteers, we have built strong momentum toward developing greater reach, more key partnerships, and solid revenue streams.

Visit: https://outdoorafro.com or @outdoorafro across all social media platforms to learn more.

Primary Purpose of Position

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer, the Donor and Project Experience Coordinator is responsible for providing administrative and project specific support for the organization, fundraising, and development efforts. This position also works closely with the executive assistant, donors, contractors, and community partners.

Position Responsibilities

  • Participate in fund development efforts through conducting donor research, sending donor acknowledgements, and other duties as assigned
  • Coordinate events and other meetings including invitations, venue, and catering; manage event materials and supplies; conduct purchasing and organizing
  • Provide administrative support for the office as well as program initiatives
  • Coordinate participation data, such as gathering data from MeetUp to get participation numbers to the Outdoor Afro Leadership Director; and administer participation surveys for grants
  • Contribute creative and thoughtful input and revisions on programing, materials, and other directed communications
  • Perform special projects and other duties as assigned

Essential Experience

  • Associate’s Degree or equivalent experience in an office or project management environment
  • Personal experience, enthusiasm, and comfort with a variety of outdoor/nature experiences
  • Intermediate to advanced Google Drive, Microsoft Office Suite skills (especially MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel)

Desired Skills

  • Nonprofit/business development at an associate level or comparable fundraising experience
  • Knowledge of local and national funders and granting organizations
  • Knowledge of social media platforms and best practices
  • Detail focused with excellent organization and calendar management skills
  • Ability to manage multiple projects within deadlines
  • Strong writing and verbal communication skills
  • Friendly, courteous, energetic, and a positive ‘can-do’ attitude
  • Creative and self motivated

Other Requirements

  • California Driver’s license
  • Ability to lift up to 40 pounds

Availability: This is a part-time, flexible, hourly position (maximum 30 hrs a week) hours will vary, include some travel, and availability on evenings and/or weekends for special events is expected.

Location: Oakland, California, Uptown District — located near many public transportation options.

Compensation: Commensurate with experience.

Email resume and references to: people@outdoorafro.com

Please note that no resumes will be reviewed or accepted via LinkedIn, or Facebook inbox

Outdoor Afro is an equal opportunity employer. The above job description is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of duties and standards of the position. Incumbents will follow any other instructions, and perform any other related duties, as assigned by their supervisor.

Environmental Justice: An Appreciation of Thurgood Marshall’s Outdoor Legacy

“During some of the darkest times in our nation’s history, when rights were denied, lives were threatened and African Americans knew they could not turn to their government for help, calls would go out to the NAACP. When the answer came, the words whispered in homes, churches and communities were enough to calm fears, lift despair, assuage anger and give enough hope to hold on a bit longer: “Thurgood’s coming.” 

Stephanie J. Jones

 

By National Program Director Zoë Polk

Fifty years ago, Thurgood Marshall began his service as the first African American Supreme Court Justice. His appointment came after a breath of work devoted to dismantling the separate but equal doctrine. While his legacy is most often put in the context of school desegregation, police misconduct and voting rights, Thurgood Marshall also played a central role in enforcing African Americans’ right to #BlackJoy in the outdoors.


Separate But Equal
Marshall and his famous legal mentor Charles Houston were the primary architects of the legal strategy to end government enforcement of separate but equal policies. In Brown v. Board of Education, Marshall, at the time the Legal Director of the NAACP, argued that it is vital to the country and to the world that the Court affirm that Black children are not a danger to white children. He reminded the Court that the evidence of this fact is in outdoor recreation:
“Kids in Virginia and South Carolina…they play in the streets together, they play on their farms together, they go down the road together, they separate to go to school, they come out of school and play ball together. They have to be separated in school.” -Thurgood Marshall, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1953.
Marshall argued that separate but equal policies’ sole purpose was to keep the descendants of slaves as close to slavery as possible. Based on this rationale, the Court struck down school segregation. Marshall’s strategy was later employed by civil rights lawyers and community activists around the country to challenge separate but equal policies in swimming pools, parks, beaches, picnic sites and campgrounds.

Black Land Ownership
Before he became a Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall argued and won Mcghee v. Sipes (see Shelley v. Kraemer.) This case made restrictive covenants based on race in land deeds unenforceable. Before this case, African Americans saved hard earned money to invest into the American Dream of buying houses with a backyard where they could watch their children play safely. At the time, Black people were signing land deeds and later told that the sale was invalid. If they refused to leave, white neighbors could rely on the government to help forcibly remove them and had no recourse. Many Black people had their houses vandalized, bombed and their families terrorized until they left the neighborhood.
While the widespread use of racially restrictive covenants continued after the Supreme Court victory, white land owners could not leverage the government to enforce them. Moreover, the success of this case indicated to Marshall and the NAACP that Jim Crow’s days were numbered.
It also paved the way for Black Americans to become land owners and create wealth that could be passed down to future generations.

Outdoor Afro uplifts and honors Black History every day of the year. Since 2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s historic appointment to the Supreme Court, we are spending this February reflecting on his impact in our work. Across the country, Outdoor Afro leaders from Boston to Charleston to St. Louis to Bay Area California, will lead nature walks, snow shoe events, and hikes in public parks that were once segregated. We will invite discussions on the impact that Justice Marshall had on our own families’ neighborhood mobility and land ownership. We will talk to our parents, grandparents and elders about how they experienced public lands during Jim Crow and in the early days of desegregation.
We will hold space and gratitude for Thurgood Marshall.

#RiseUpwithOutdoorAfro Inauguration Weekend

On January 20-22, 2017, join Outdoor Afro as We Find Resilience in Nature

By National Program Director Zoë Polk
Some of our favorite musicians, poets, and activists remind us to look to nature for lessons on how to rise in the face of tough conditions.

“You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
Maya Angelou

These lyrics, quotes and speeches serve as sources of inspiration and restoration on our journeys.

“You are not judged from the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed.”
Frederick Douglas

In the quiet of nature, we sing their words to ourselves and are instantly connected to our world.

“Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true”
Bob Marley

Most importantly, we understand that to #RiseUp is a daily practice.  And that nature provides infinite examples of how this act sustains life.

“And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up.”
Andre Day

On January 20, Outdoor Afro, in solidarity with communities across the world, will reflect on President Barack Obama’s legacy, and in particular, his 8 years of environmental stewardship.  During his tenure, Obama has created or expanded 24 National Monuments, including Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, Pullman Porter National Monument, the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument  and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument. He has protected 550 million acres during his time in office, covering more acreage than any other president.
As his presidency ends, we acknowledge that there is some wilderness ahead. We invite you to join us as we enter this new territory in the same way that we approach every wild space: relying on Black history as our compass, singing Nature Freedom Songs, nurturing seeds of hope, coming into bloom together, and reaching for the sunlight.

“Inauguration” is defined as the beginning or introduction of system, policy or period. It can take the form of a ceremony launching the start of something. On January 20-22, 2017, Outdoor Afro will hold ceremony in nature. We invite you to #RiseUp with us and take action in the following ways:

1. Visit a National Monuments designated by President Obama, honoring his legacy as an environmental steward.
2. Take a family friendly Healing Hike, including  beach walks, sunrise hikes, and snowshoes among winter blooms, focusing on what nature teaches us about resilience
3. Spend the entire day in the wilderness-  climbing to mountaintops, seeing the forest for the trees, and laying down your burden down by the riverside

January 20-22, 2017 Get Outside with OutdoorAfro Leaders nationwide.  Gather your family and friends and share your experience using #RiseUpWithOutdoorAfro on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram!

 

From Mount Whitney to the Appalachian Trail: Oh the Places We Go with KEEN!

“These KEENS are made for Hiking and Biking and Kayaking too With or without socks, these KEENS will play all day with you”

 

Written By National Program Director Zoë Polk

Like most outdoor enthusiasts, we love all things gear! We love researching and then buying a new product at our local REI store. We love breaking it in on the trail. We love talking about how footwear keeps us safe and encourage all our participants to invest in a good pair of shoes that protect you during your adventures, We also love cleaning and maintaining our gear so that it can stay with us for years of explorations.  

Our KEEN footwear has been good to us since we founded the Outdoor Afro Leadership Team in 2012. An early supporter of our mission to reconnect Black people to nature and each other through outdoor activities, KEEN has consistently been both a partner and a friend in this work.

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When KEEN was founded in 2003, they made a commitment to act on inspiration quickly and now have a history of supporting good causes. They have given more than $7 million in cash and resources to nonprofit organizations around the world, including Outdoor Afro.

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KEEN shares Outdoor Afro values of building stronger communities and a healthier planet. They have stood behind us and other partners,  as we have worked to inspire responsible outdoor participation, and land and water conservation. We have witnessed the KEEN Effect, the company commitment to preserving and the places we play around the world, firsthand through our networks from California to Florida.

We asked some of our 2016 Outdoor Afro Leaders to share the adventures they have had in their KEENS.  Whether backpacking on the Appalachian trail, urban hiking, training in Yosemite, crossing water or vacationing, our team finds it easy playing in KEEN:

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Outdoor Afro Los Angeles Leader Ivan Guillory wore his Voyaguer Mid Boots to lead a group to the summit of Mount Baldy.When leading kayaking expeditions, Outdoor Afro Afro Austin Leader Starla Simmons wears her Newport H2 SandalsWhile scouting Myakka River State Park for an upcoming Outdoor Afro event, Orlando Leader Hillary Van Dyke wore her Voyaguer mid boots because she needed ankle support and low arch boots that could handle any kind of terrain.
Whether hiking with his son on a sunny day in the Bay Area or trekking 40 miles in the rain on the Appalachian Trail, Cliff Sorrell relies on his Summit County boots.When climbing on rocks on the White Oak Canyon Trail in Shenandoah National Park, Outdoor Afro Baltimore Leader, Brittany Leavitt wears her Koven Mid WP.On a family hiking in Castlwood State Park,St. Louis Leader Mario Charles, found his  Logan Mid WP  to be perfect for a hot day hike with challenging terrain with numerous elevation changes. His Dad found the same comfort in the Durand Low.
Because of their breathability and style, the Skyline Ankle Wedge are perfect for day of wine tasting in Sonoma for Outdoor Afro Founder and CEO, Rue MappAtlanta Leader Stefan Moss likes the freedom of movement, security and adaptability of the KEEN Uneek for lounging on the beach or ziplining through the rainforest.When climbing the San Francisco hills to reach local city parks,  Leader Zoe Polk prefers the versatility of the Santa Cruz Canvas
When hiking the Taum Sauk Mountain potion of the Ozark Trail St. Louis, Leader Duane Williams wears his  Durand Mid WP. According to Duane,
“My Keen Durand Mids give me the comfort, durability, and keep my feet dry so I can conquer the mountain!”
While crossing streams, basking in the spray of the waterfalls, and tromping through the steep mountainous trails in Pisgah National Forest,  Outdoor Afro Miami Leader Ta-Shana Taylor wore her  Maupin and  Outdoor Afro Charlotte Leader Yanira Castro wore the Newport H2.At Rocky Mountain National Park, Outdoor Afro Boulder Leader Roz Katonah wore their Durand Mid WP, which were perfect for the rocky, wet ascent to a waterfall.

Thank you KEEN for being trusted ally in our outdoor movement!

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Get Free in Nature with #UndergroundTrailMode

This weekend, Hike with Outdoor Afro and Honor the Legacy of Harriet Tubman, and all of Freedom Seekers of the Underground Railroad.

Written By National Program Director Zoë Polk
From October 6-9, 2016, seven members of the 2016 Outdoor Afro Leadership Team  will hike the Maryland Portion of the Appalachian Trail. Beginning at the Pennsylvania border, our team will Blackpack along the South Mountain Ridge Top to the Harpers Ferry National Park. Their 40 mile trek will be done in tribute to the thousands of African Americans in history who found their freedom in nature.
In honor of this history and in solidarity with our Blackpackers, we invite you get in #UndergroundTrailMode with us:

Atlanta, Georgia

#UndergroundTrailMode on the Appalachian Trail October 8

Austin and San Antonio, TX

#UndergroundTrailMo­de: African Americans in Austin – A Lasting Legacy tour October 8

Bay Area, California

Hike 10 Miles in Solidarity with OutdoorAfro Blackpackers October 8

Boston

Underground Trail Mode: A House of My Own October 8

Charlotte, NC

#UndergroundTrailMode at Latta Plantation  October 8

Charleston, South Carolina

#UndergroundTrailMo­de Solidarity Kayaking Trip on the Combahee River (CANCELLED DUE TO HURRICANE MATTHEW) October 8

Chicago and Northwest Indiana

Burnham Wildlife Corridor Hike in Solidarity with #UndergroundTrailMo­de October 8

 Cleveland, OH

Night Hike Along the Hemlock Loop Trail October 8

Detroit, Michigan

#UndergroundTrailMode Walking Detroit October 8

Los Angeles, CA

#UndergroundTrailMode Solidarity Hike on Mount Baldy October 8

Louisville, KY

Fall Black History Hike October 8

Miami, FL

#UndergroundTrailMo­de 12 mile hike in Fakahatchee October 15

Miluakee-Madison, Wisconsin

Explore the Underground Railroad in Wisconsin October 8

Minneapolis, MN

Solidarity Hike at Wild River State Park October 9

Newark, NJ

#UndergroundTrailMo­­de 7.5 mile hike Jockey Hollow – Grand Loop Trail October 9

Portland, Oregon

#UndergroundTrailMode: Animal Tracking and River Exploration October 8

Phoenix, AZ

Healing Hike at Lost Dog Wash Trail October 9

Richmond, VA

#UndergroundTrailMode Solidarity Hike at St. Petersburg National Battlefield October 8

Seattle, Washington

#UndergroundTrailMode Solidarity Hike and Seattle Black History Exploration October 7

St Louis, Missouri

Hiking Through History – 3 Mile Hike in Hop Hollow #UndergroundTrailMo­de October 9

Tampa, FL

Urban Hike in Solidarity with #UndergroundTrailMode October 6

Washington DC- Maryland- Northern Virginia

#UndergroundTrailMo­de: Harpers Ferry Maryland Heights AT Hike October 9

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE: Assemble your Friends and Family for a Hike October 6-9, 2016 and share your experience using #UndergroundTrailMode on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram!

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#UndergroundTrailMode: BlackPacking the Appalachian Trail

In Furtherance of our Mission to Celebrate and Inspire Black connections to Nature, Outdoor Afro Invites You to Hike History October 6-9, 2016

By National Program Director Zoë Polk
This October, Outdoor Afro is going Blackpacking again! Last year, hundreds of Black people around the country honored the Buffalo Soldiers’ trailblazing of Mount Whitney through #WhitneyHiking.  In 2016, we will lift up Harriet Tubman and all of the freedom seekers of the Underground Railroad by getting in #UndergroundTrailMode

BlackPacking the Appalachian Trail

From October 6-9, 2016, six members of the 2016 Outdoor Afro Leadership Team  will hike the Maryland Portion of the Appalachian Trail. Beginning at the Pennsylvania border, our team will Blackpack along the South Mountain Ridge Top to the Harpers Ferry National Park. Their 40 mile trek will be done in tribute to the thousands of African Americans in history who found their freedom in nature.

Meet the Team:

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Beky, Outdoor Afro Leader, North Carolina Triangle                            Brittany, Outdoor Afro Leader, Baltimore, MD

CLIFF MELODY
Cliff, Outdoor Afro Leader Bay Area, CA                                       Melody, Outdoor Afro Leader, Baltimore, MD
KELLY CHRIS
Kelly, Outdoor Afro Leader Newark, NJ                                       Chris, Outdoor Afro Leader Chicago, IL

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Val, Outdoor Afro Leader Chicago, IL

The Appalachian Trail and the Underground Railroad
Before the Appalachian Trail was founded in 1937, formerly enslaved Americans of African descent crossed the Potomac River, trekked through the Appalachian Mountains, and made their way to freedom. Harriet Tubman was one of the most famous “conductors” on this intricate system of hiking trails and safe houses. Abolitionists, freed Blacks and slaves referred to these paths as the Underground Railroad, and they used railway metaphors as code to discuss escape plans. Slave catchers stated that when Black people were on those trails they seemed to just “disappear underground.”
In fact Black people on the Underground Railroad weren’t traveling via loud machines on trails made of concrete, iron and steel. They quietly hiked on grass, dirt, moss, and through rivers. They relied on the illumination of the moon to light their paths. They foraged for herbal remedies and food. Their leaders, Harriet Tubman and other “conductors,” weren’t steering massive machines and shoveling coal into fires. Instead they were following memorized paths, gazing up at the vast night sky to identify the Big Dipper and the North Star. They studied birdcalls and mimicked them to communicate danger and safety. They used their relationship with nature to get them to freedom.

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Artwork by Kadir Nelson

 

#UndergroundTrailMode: A National Black to Nature Movement

In remembrance and in honor of these #OutdoorAfros of their time and in solidarity with our Blackpackers, we invite you get in #UndergroundTrailMode with us Indigenous Peoples’ Day weekend, October 6-9, 2016:

*Join your local Outdoor Afro leader on a solidarity hike

*Discover and Hike the #OutdoorAfro history in Your City

*#FindYourPark and Find Underground Railroad Stops and Passages

* Assemble your Friends and Family for a Hike October 6-9, 2016 and share your experience using #UndergroundTrailMode on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram.

Thanks to The North Face Explore Fund for their generous support!

Placing Waterfalls: How Niagara Falls Powered the Niagara Movement

“To ignore, overlook, or apologize for these wrongs is to prove ourselves unworthy of freedom.”

Declaration of Principles, Niagra Movement, 1905

 

Today, on 111th anniversary of its founding, we are reflecting on the significance the Niagara Movement, a civil rights organization that held its inaugural meeting on banks of one of the most prominent natural spaces in the United States.
Niagara Falls had long been a simple of Black Liberation. Underground Railroad conductor and Outdoor Afro of her time, Harriet Tubman demanded her passengers to “Come look at the Falls!” as they made their way to freedom in Canada.  Niagara Movement Organizers, W.E.B. DuBois and William Trotter connected the roar of the falls to their demand for racial justice and their rejection of accommodation and conciliation.
So from July 11-13, 1905, intentional on the significance of their environment to their cause, they named their organization “The Niagara Movement” to be representative of a “mighty current” of change its leaders sought to bring about.
Over the course of three days, the participants met around the dining room table of prominent Black American Mary Talbert and created their Declaration of Principles. The nineteen paragraph document which urges Black Americans “to protest emphatically and continually against the curtailment of their political rights” resonates as we reread them today. And it is an important reminder of how the outdoors have inspired Black leadership and revolution.

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