Shelton Johnson: A Modern Buffalo Soldier

Here is a video of the well publicized interview with Shelton Johnson, the only African American Park Ranger in Yosemite. He links the lack of African American participation in the outdoors to the “scars of slavery”. What do you think?

You may also listen to my interview with Shelton on BlogTalkRadio

4 Thoughts on “Shelton Johnson: A Modern Buffalo Soldier”

  • i agree. african americans in louisiana are afraid to go out in the open water because of the echoes of the middle passage. the woods (and swamps) were places where the enslaved as runaways were tracked by men and dogs. african american also worked in the turpentine industry. imagine the heat and the stickiness of turpentine combined working in the south. and the list goes on . . .

  • I agree, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. I am working on an essay right now on this issue, not just slavery but well past slavery. Let us not forget the black man dragged by a Truck in rural Texas, years of Lynching all across america–I do believe that it is intergenerational trauma experienced by our ancestors and remembered in our cells. Also, I’ve had experiences in the “wild” in West Virginia, MD, with a group of my African American friends where we were not welcomed by the locals–uncomfortable stares etc. But this is not all of our story and healing is possible by remembering and discussing and creating safe spaces, like Outdoor Afro and I do in my work as a counselor with people of color to specifically awaken, nurture and heal our relationship to the land. Stay tuned for more….

  • I know Shelton, and his great work saving the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, but I’m not yet sold on his argument about why Black folks don’t like being in the outdoors. I first heard this same argument made serveral years ago by someone else and have been thinking long and hard about it since during my many walks in the woods. I’m hoping a bunch of us can get together during the Breaking the Color Barrier event in ATL in a couple of weeks to talk about it. It is a very plausible argument and I probably won’t need much convincing but strongly feel it is a subject worth discussion.

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