— Megan Hess (@mhess4) March 27, 2015
The Today Show recently profiled Betty Reid Soskin, who at 93 is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service. Reid Soskin began her career with NPS at the age of 85, and is assigned to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California.
Reid Soskin moved to Oakland from New Orleans in 1927, after a hurricane and flood drove her family from their home there.
According to the NPS, which highlighted Reid Soskin during Women’s History Month this year, Reid Soskin is a longtime activist and the great-granddaughter of a slave who rarely appears in public without her uniform.
The Department Of The Interior shares some incredible quotes directly from Reid Soskin:
In 1942 I was a 20-year-old file clerk in a Jim Crow segregated union auxiliary — Boilermakers Auxiliary 36. Labor unions were not yet racially integrated and wouldn’t be for another decade, so the unions created all-black unions for workers. When I graduated from high school as a young woman of color, my chances for employment were limited to two — working in agriculture or as a domestic servant. My parents were part of the service workers’ generation. My elder sister worked the first five years of her marriage as half of a domestic team; her husband was a chauffeur, and she was a housekeeper for a white family. Because they lived in, they could save every penny toward the purchase of their first home. This was the pathway into the middle class for black folks. I share that story to show that my job as a clerk in a Jim Crow union hall was a step up; the equivalent of today’s young woman of color being the first in her family to enter college.
Why she is rarely seen without her Park Ranger Uniform…
Yes, I do wear my uniform at all times; because when I’m on the streets or on an escalator or elevator, I am making every little girl of color aware of a career choice she may not have known she had. That’s important. The pride is evident in their eyes, and the opportunities get announced very subtly to those who’ve lived outside the circle of full acceptance.
Finally, the depth of history she has seen in her life…
We have witnessed so much of American history — slavery, reconstruction, World War I, Great Depression, World War II, Martin Luther King Jr., assassinations of the Kennedys, Vietnam, the Moon Landing, the Mars Probe, Sept. 11, Iraq, Iran — I can’t breathe. Add it to the fact that on Jan. 20, 2009, I witnessed — as a seated guest of my state representative, George Miller, with a snapshot of my great-grandmother in my breast pocket — the inauguration of our first African American president in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, a memorial for a president whose life was contemporary with my great-grandmother’s. I find it incredible that all of this, and more, happened within the lives of three women who interacted as adults. That’s how fast time goes.
Read Betty Soskin’s blog here.
Happy Birthday! 15 Coretta Scott King Quotes That Will Brighten Your Day
1. On Activism & Politics: "Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don't believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others."Source:Getty 1 of 15
2. Maya Angelou On Coretta: "Many times on those late after -- evenings she would say to me, "Sister, it shouldn't be an 'either-or', should it? Peace and justice should belong to all people, everywhere, all the time. Isn't that right?" And I said then and I say now, "Coretta Scott King, you're absolutely right. I do believe that peace and justice should belong to every person, everywhere, all the time."Source:Getty 2 of 15
3. On Fighting The Struggle: "Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."Source:Getty 3 of 15
4. On Her Purpose: "I always felt that what was happening in Montgomery was part of God's will and purpose, and we were put there to be in the forefront of that struggle, and it wasn't just a struggle relegated to Montgomery, Alabama or the South, but that it had worldwide implications. And I felt, really, a sense of fulfillment that I hadn't felt before, that this was really what I was supposed to be doing, and it was a great blessing to have discovered this, and to be doing what was God's will for your life."Source:Getty 4 of 15
5. On Life: "I'm fulfilled in what I do. I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes - the finer things of life - would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense."Source:Getty 5 of 15
6. On Haters: "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."Source:Getty 6 of 15
7. On MLK: "I don't think that my husband, although he said he was going to go back south and fight to change the system -- and he was thinking about not just in Alabama or in Georgia, but he was talking about making our society more inclusive, changing the system so that everybody could participate -- although he talked about that at that time, we never dreamed that we would have an opportunity, that we would be projected into the forefront of the struggle as we were. We were just going to work from, as he said, a Black Baptist Church pulpit. That was the freest place in the society at that time, but we had no idea what God had in store for us. And I do believe it was divine intervention that we were thrust into the forefront of the struggle."Source:Getty 7 of 15
8. On The Strength Of Communities: "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members ... a heart of grace and a soul generated by love."Source:Getty 8 of 15
9. On Women's Voting Rights: "If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children."Source:Getty 9 of 15
10. On Finding Her Purpose After MLK's Death: "I prayed that God would give me the direction for my life, to give me the strength to do what it was, and the ability to do what it was that he had called me to do. And I was trying to seek, 'What is it that I'm supposed to do, now that Martin is no longer here?'"Source:Getty 10 of 15
11. On Juggling Motherhood & Fighting For Freedom: "People asked me how was I able to do this and raise four children at the same time. I can only reply that when God calls you to a great task, he provides you with the strength to accomplish what he has called you to do. Faith and prayer, family and friends were always available when I needed them, and of course Martin and I always were there for each other."Source:Getty 11 of 15
12. On LBGT Rights: "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."Source:Getty 12 of 15
13. Bernice King On Her Mother: "My mother refused to be intimidated by the many threats, acts of violence, having her home bombed on two occasions, or even the assassination of her husband. Never did she waver from her and my father's shared determination that America must honor its sacred promise of equality and justice for citizens of every race."Source:Getty 13 of 15
14. MLK On Coretta: "My devoted wife has been a constant source of consolation to me through all the difficulties. In the midst of the most tragic experiences, she never became panicky or over-emotional. I have come to see the real meaning of that rather trite statement: a wife can either make or break a husband. My wife was always stronger than I was through the struggle...Corrie proved to be that type of wife with qualities to make a husband when he could have been so easily broken. In the darkest moments, she always brought the light of hope. I am convinced that if I had not had a wife with the fortitude, strength, and calmness of Corrie, I could not have withstood the ordeals and tensions surrounding the movement."Source:Getty 14 of 15
15. On Finding Peace: "There is a spirit and a need and a man at the beginning of every great human advance. Every one of these must be right for that particular moment of history, or nothing happens."Source:Getty 15 of 15
93-Year-Old Black Woman Is Oldest Park Ranger In America was originally published on newsone.com