Is it just us, or does it feel really good to finally see 2021? Today we’re kicking off the new year and a new month with a new highlight in our DiverseNPS series. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day happening later this month (January 18, 2021), this month we’re featuring The Memorial Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial located in Washington, DC. Check out today’s post describing the DiverseNPS initiative and our January 2021 featured organization The Memorial Foundation.
As outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of America’s parks, we’ve experienced the benefits of connecting with nature and our diverse landscapes. From city parks where we can get a taste of green amid cemented city blocks, to recharging strolls and hikes in the millions of acres of our state parks, to treks and climbs in the breathtaking landscapes in our national parks, the chance to be in nature is an experience we hold invaluable.
Undoubtedly, our lands should be enjoyed by all of us, but when we look into who is getting access to our lands, we see alarmingly disproportionate statistics that highlight a gap between race and park visitations. When we examine the reasons why these gaps are present—access, education, resources, discrimination and prejudice—we understand that systemic racism in our country is the major contributor to these disappointing disproportions.
In the National Park System, for example, Black Americans make up about 7 percent of visitors, while they are 13 percent of the U.S. population. Moreover, 78 percent of visitors are White.
The end of the Jim Crow era in 1968, showcases that Black American generations have only recently gained the freedom and liberty to move around this country. Still today, minorities face prejudice and discrimination within our outdoor spaces and, often, cannot safely and comfortably enjoy outdoor recreation.
AS PARK ENTHUSIASTS AND ADVOCATES OF SPENDING TIME IN NATURE, WE ARE COMMITTED TO ADDRESSING RACISM WITHIN OUR INDUSTRY.
To do so, we are taking action to use our platforms to contribute to the progress that is much needed within the outdoor space and community.
As a part of this community, Park Chasers will join with others in highlighting organizations that are dedicated to bridging the race gap in the outdoor space by connecting opportunities and experiences to people of color.
Each month, we are featuring and focusing on one organization, with the intent to showcase their hard work, raise awareness and support them through funding and donations. We’ll share monthly articles and social media posts along with links for how you can donate.
THIS MONTH'S ORGANIZATION:
During January 2021, we’re sharing the work of The Memorial Foundation. The foundation has it’s origins in the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, organizations who worked throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s to fund raise, design, and build the memorial on the National Mall. On August 22, 2011 President Barack Obama designated the memorial as the 395th unit of the National Park Service.
Today, The Memorial Foundation creates awareness of the monument, raises funds for maintenance and care taking costs, and hosts programming around issues of democracy, social justice, and the mission of the Memorial Foundation.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Construction
THE MEMORIAL FOUNDATION PROGRAMMING
The Memorial Foundation holds several programs each year both at the Memorial in Washington D.C. and around the United States. Programs include:
A two-day learning event held in several cities across the USA. The program accepts the most highly qualified high school students from each city. During the conference, the students examine leadership principles advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr and acquire the knowledge and skills to enact change in their lives and communities. Upon completion of the program, the participants receive the title of Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar.
This program provides a network to bring Leaders of Democracy together through social media, meetings, and events to share ideas. This collective effort is intended to fulfill Dr. King’s legacy of democracy, justice, hope and love and the mission of the Memorial Foundation.
The Memorial Foundation hosts a brief program at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial twice a year, to commemorate the life and death of Dr. King. The events occur on Dr. King’s national holiday in January and on the anniversary of his assassination in April. Both programs are open to the public and are celebrated with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Stone of Hope. There is also a summer film series during the warmer months. This year on October 15-17, the 10 Year Anniversary of the Opening of the Memorial will be celebrated.