This grant was originally approved for 2020, but the planned work was unable to take place, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was approved again for 2021.

Project overview: Fill a gap in Yosemite’s educational resources by researching and sharing stories of African Americans who worked in, lived in, visited and shaped the park during the past 150 years.

How your support helps: The basic elements of Yosemite’s history as an iconic national park are well known, from the public lands legislation that granite walls and giant sequoias inspired in the mid-1800s, to a modern-day reputation as a global hub for rock-climbers, hikers, backpackers and sightseers. Current educational resources about Yosemite’s history, however, often don’t capture the whole story — and don’t reflect the diversity of people who have connections to the park, either in years past or as present-day rangers, researchers, visitors and stewards.

Park educators recognize that many stories remain untold, left out of official records and guidebooks. They acknowledge a notable lack of information about African American history in Yosemite. Through this project, they hope to fill the gap.

Researchers have found snippets of that history, such as references to African Americans in correspondence from the park’s early years, and they are confident more documentation exists in journals, letters and other materials. With your support, researchers will dive into archives within and beyond the park to uncover details about Yosemite’s African American history. After conducting extensive research, they’ll share findings with the public through podcasts and social media, and in a new resource manual for more than 100 park educators and interpreters.

In this February 2021 video (produced by Yosemite National Park), ranger Shelton Johnson shares insights about African American history in the Sierra Nevada, and why this research matters far beyond the park boundary:

Project partner: Yosemite National Park.

Laura Goforth

Interpretation and Education, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

“Yosemite National Park was first preserved over 150 years ago at a time when the voices and stories of African Americans were not considered an important part of our history. ... If we fully intend to honor our jobs as the steward of America’s history, then we must be able to tell the whole story.”