Little Known African-American History Revealed in New National Parks Documentary
Role of Trailblazing Buffalo Soldiers Featured in "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"
Washington, DC - In his most recent work, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, award-winning documentarian Ken Burn's includes the story of the Buffalo Soldiers' historic role in establishing Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. The six part series, which began on Sunday, September 27 on Public Television stations throughout the country, features Yosemite National Park Interpretive Ranger Shelton Johnson sharing his many exciting experiences working in national parks.
During a visit in the park's research library in 2002, Johnson discovered a photograph of the 24th Mounted Infantry taken somewhere in Yosemite in 1899. The African-American Army regiments that became known as Buffalo Soldiers during the Indian War period were among the first "rangers" assigned to protect Yosemite and Sequoia & General Grant (Kings Canyon) National Parks. "For me, as an African-American park ranger, seeing this photograph was like stumbling into my own family while traveling in a foreign country," Johnson explains.
In addition to Ranger Johnson, the late Dr. John Hope Franklin is featured with reflections on his family visit to Yosemite National Park in the early 1950's and the 1963 March on Washington on the National Mall where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his "I Have a Dream" speech surrounded by national park rangers.
Though the documentary chronicles the history of national parks from their inception in the mid-1800's through the mid-twentieth century, an addendum piece "Untold Stories" provides a more in-depth look at the many places that preserve our country's diverse cultural and heritage stories. "African American history comes to life in our national parks, and Ken's latest work reinforces their relevance to all Americans. We hope everyone will join us in watching this truly remarkable work," said Robert L. Harris, chairman of The African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation, the congressionally chartered charitable partner of America's national parks.
To learn more about the African American Experience Fund and opportunities for you to be a part of the African American experience as relived in our nation's parks and historic sites, visit www.aaexperience.org
About The African American Experience Fund
Established in 2001, the African American Experience Fund (AAEF) is the only national fundraising organization of the congressionally chartered National Park Foundation (NPF) that focuses exclusively on supporting programs that preserve and celebrate the African American history found in national parks. Since its establishment, AAEF has contributed over $600,000 in grants for innovative programs at 19 national parks and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom that connect all Americans to the considerable contributions of African Americans throughout our country's history. To learn more about these sites, and the many other national parks that preserve African American history, please visitwww.aaexperience.org
About the National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation is an independent charitable organization chartered by Congress in 1967 to strengthen the connection between the American people and their national parks. As the official national non-profit partner of America's National Parks, the Foundation raises private funds, makes strategic grants, creates innovative partnerships and increases public awareness about the need and opportunity for park philanthropy. In its 2008 fiscal year, the National Park Foundation distributed grants and program support of $27.3M. To learn more, visit www.nationalparks.org
Cynthia Lowery Morris