Park Ranger Asks: Where Are the Black Visitors?


Johnson, a musician, storyteller and interpretive specialist at Yosemite National Park, is determined to inspire young inner-city African Americans to experience what he says transformed his life. Less than 1 percent of the visitors to Yosemite are African American, a number he's eager to improve.

"It's bigger than just African Americans not visiting national parks. It's a disassociation from the natural world," said Johnson, who has worked in Yosemite for the past 15 of his 22 years in the Park Service. "I think it is, in part, a memory of the horrible things that were done to us in rural America."
The rejection of the natural world by the black community, he said, is a scar left over from slavery.

… In 2002 he won the Park Service's Western region award for outstanding achievement in interpreting the park. Sierra Club Books is publishing "Gloryland," his fictional memoir of a buffalo soldier. He is featured in the upcoming six-part Ken Burns documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," scheduled to air on PBS next month.