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Why Do National Parks Fail To Attract People Of Color?

Audrey Peterman wrote a book about the journey she and her husband made through America's national parks. (Courtesy: Audrey Peterman)

Audrey Peterman wrote a book about the journey she and her husband made through America's national parks. (Courtesy: Audrey Peterman)

Here & Now Guests:

Outside magazine recently convened a panel to confront the lack of diversity among guests and employees in national parks.

Dr. Stephen Lockhart, an avid camper and climber  says it’s discouraging not to see more people of color like himself enjoying national parks. He believes the parks hold not just educational, but also economic opportunities for young people.

Audrey Peterman says the parks don’t attract African-Americans, because the media doesn’t portray images of people of color using the parks. In fact, out of more than 6,000 photos in Outside magazine during a ten-year period, just over 100 featured African-Americans.

Peterman is co-founder of Earthwise Productions, an environmental advocacy and consulting group, and co-author with her husband of their 2009 memoir “Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care,” which described their 12,000 mile journey through the national parks.

She told Here & Now’s Robin Young how her friends and family reacted to news that she and her husband were going hiking in Maine. “People freaked out. Several of Frank’s friends actually offered him guns, they said, man are you crazy? You know what can happen to a black man out there?”


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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