Judy Moore: African Americans and the great outdoors

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, June 8, 2023

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Judy MooreThere has been a misconception over the years that African Americans don’t like the outdoors or any activity that you can do in that atmosphere. I love getting outside in nature, which gives me the relaxing freedom to think about life and just enjoy the view. Two women, Nicole Boyd and Narshara Tucker, who are former eighth grade teachers from Richmond, co-founded Black Girls Hike Richmond in 2019.

Based on a 2018 report by George Wright Forum, it was discovered that less than 10 percent of national park visitors were African Americans. With Black Girls Hike RVA, Nicole and Narshara felt it necessary to change that misconception that “black people don’t hike”. They want more black and brown women to take advantage of exploring the outdoors which would enable them to partake in the joys of nature as well as the benefits of forming new friendships. In fact, Boyd and Tucker incorporated their love of the outdoors into their classroom teaching. In order to get the word out more about Black Girls Hike, they established an Instagram site in May 2020 and it proved fruitful because a woman named Sam Thibodeaux, an avid hiker who wanted to connect with other hikers, discovered the group through the platform.

A program like Black Girls Hike RVA is a brilliant plan put into action in that African American women and other women of color can now fully enjoy facilities like the Shenandoah National Park since they weren’t fully integrated until 1950. Segregation didn’t just affect education for African Americans but it affected the availability to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking or boating.

Nicole and Narshara’s favorite park is Pocahontas Park in Chesterfield, which has boating, great hiking and bike roads as well as the Bright Hope Horse Complex. Furthermore, the young educators desire to establish programs for children in the Richmond area which will introduce them to the wealth of natural resources in Virginia and, in September 2020 they led a group of preteens and teens to the York River State Park, to the Jack and Jill Hampton Complex. What these innovative ladies have accomplished hasn’t stopped in Virginia but has inspired other Black Girls Hike organizations to start as far away as New York and California.

I read about Nicole Boyd and Narshara Tucker’s work with Black Girls Hike RVA in the August 2021 edition of The Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative Magazine and was in awe of what they have accomplished. Getting the word out that hiking and anything outdoors is for black and brown women is extremely important. Enjoying nature’s beauty and forming a camaraderie of friendships can boost your self esteem as well as helping you learn so much about yourself. Our young African American and other women of color and girls need this. Please google Black Girls Hike RVA for more information and hike on.

Judy Moore is a tour guide with The Central High Museum, living in Wylliesburg and can be reached at v5agabond2@gmail.com.