The Way Home

Returning to the National Parks

By Amy Marquis

“You shouldn’t have to convince people to go to paradise,”
--Shelton Johnson, Ranger, Yosemite National Park

Although our national parks belong to all Americans, it’s a sad fact that very few people of color ever set foot in some of our country’s most beautiful places. Take a journey to Yosemite National Park with the Amazing Grace 50+ Club, a Los Angeles-based senior church group whose members are looking to reverse that trend.

At the emotional heart of the video is an interpretation of the Buffalo Soldier experience by Yosemite Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. Read about some of his challenges portraying this aspect of park history, and his thoughts on why African Americans are the group least likely to have a wilderness experience.

Click here to learn more about efforts to bring more diverse visitors to the parks.

Visit the NPS website to learn more about Buffalo Soldiers in Yosemite

This article appears in the Spring 2012 issue.

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October 14, 2013

I love this. It really goes to show how the appreciation for our land can have such an astounding impact on our lives. I think it would be great for people not only to learn about these wonderful places in history, but to experience them and understand their beauty and importance. Also what is the song at the end of the video? It's so pretty and it fits the video very well!

Vin G

February 24, 2013

Outstanding. Saw last night at Banff Film Fest tour in New Haven, CT


February 20, 2012

America's Best Idea! We should all contribute to the protection and expansion of our state and national parks. There are those working now to destroy these priceless treasures for short term corporate gain. Let's not let that happen. Please, get involved.


February 18, 2012

I really enjoyed this video. What a nice group! I hope more people will get out of their urban environments to experience the beauty of our National Parks!


February 10, 2012

Amazing video! I met ranger Shelton Johnson back in 2006 and is still a big part of why i appreciate my national parks. These are our backyards and we should not be afraid to go and engage with them. I am blessed to have had an opportunity to see yosemite for myself and i can't wait to take family members and friends. PARKS FOR ALL!!!

Susan Johnson

February 8, 2012

This is a great piece to add to my Interpretation and Environment course at George Mason University. Awesome and timely!


February 8, 2012

Beautiful, beautiful. I loved the comment about turmoil in the world and the peace you find in our National Parks. So, so true. Diana


February 7, 2012

This was absolutely wonderful. It gave me chills! I can't wait to show it in class. Thank you, thank you!

Thom Anderson

February 7, 2012

Well Done! I really loved this clip. All I can say is more, more, more!

Dudley Edmondson

February 7, 2012

Truly awe inspiring! I was nearly moved to tears in parts....excellent JOB! NPCA my only regret is that I did not create to video myself. I will post wherever I can

Nina Roberts

February 7, 2012

This is one of the most remarkable clips I've seen on "diversity and parks" in a long time. Way to keep it authentic, excellent job speaking on cultural realities, right on showing heartfelt connections to our natural wonders, and the remarks spoken by all will resonate worldwide! Kudos!

Carolyn Finney

February 7, 2012

Wow - I was deeply moved by this video. Thank you, Amy for telling this story - what a beautiful piece of work. Thank you!


February 6, 2012

I am entranced, delighted, amazed and soooooo satisfied...this video that Amy and team have made cuts to the heart of the matter - literally - that all people are moved by transcendent beauty, and what i know for certain as a result of visiting 162 units of the National Park System - the history and contributions of every race of people and ethnic group in this country, resides in our national parks! Yeah, National Parks!


February 6, 2012

This is a very inspiring video! Great Job!

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