Audrey and Frank Peterman

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If Frank and Audrey Peterman have their way, many more of their fellow black Americans will visit our national parks. They take host Majora Carter to Yosemite, where she crawls through a hundred-foot cave and meets Yosemite’s only permanent black park ranger.

On a 10-week tour of 15 national parks in 1995, Frank and Audrey Peterman were awed by the beauty of America and warmed by the friendliness of fellow campers. But among all of the park tourists, the Petermans saw only two fellow African-Americans.

After discovering that many blacks felt no connection with the parks, the Petermans took action: they started a program called “Keeping It Wild,” aimed at encouraging black Americans to visit the nation’s parks and other public lands that they help pay for with tax dollars. As Frank notes, “If you are not involving the communities who will make up a larger percentage of the voting population in the future, how do you then expect them to make decisions that will protect these places for posterity?”

Host Majora Carter joins the Petermans and a group of teens from North Carolina and Houston, Texas, as they crawl through a wondrous 100-foot cave in Yosemite. And we meet Shelton Johnson, Yosemite’s only permanent black park ranger, who is quick to point out that less than 1 percent of the park’s visitors are African-American — a statistic that’s bound to change with Frank and Audrey's influence.

STAY CONNECTED

Audrey and Frank Peterman's book on the importance of exploring national parks.

Legacy Land

Ranger Shelton Johnson's novel about a buffalo soldier's place in Yosemite National Park.

Gloryland