Simply acknowledging 92-year-old Betty Reid Soskin and her current role as the oldest National Park Ranger in the United States fails to capture the richness of her life’s experiences. Mrs. Reid Soskin is a also a historian, writer and prolific blogger who chronicles not only her past works but the lives of other pioneering African-Americans.
Born Betty Charbonnet on September 22, 1921 in Detroit, she lived in New Orleans until the age of six when a hurricane destroyed her family’s home and business. Her mother and two sisters headed to Northern California, establishing roots in the city of Oakland.
During World War II, Reid Soskin worked as a clerk for the Boilermakers Union A-36, an all-Black auxiliary unit. In her blog and in recent interviews, Reid Soskin has spoken extensively about her time working during WWII, acknowledging the Jim Crow laws of the time. In 1945, she and her first husband, Mel Reid, opened a Gospel record store in Berkeley, which is still in operation.
Running the business alone since 1978, Reid Soskin became a community activist. Although she was largely shielded from racism during much of her early time in the Bay Area, the 1950s would prove to be a challenge.
After moving to the predominately white town of Walnut Creek, Reid Soskin and her family endured racism, up to and including death threats. This period of Reid Soskin’s life was made tolerable via her alignment with a local Unitarian Universalist church congregation and the Black Caucus of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). For the next 20 years, the UUA and the Reid family worked in unison to bring understanding between Black and White citizens in the region.
By her own words, Reid Soskin was late to arrive to the Civil Rights Movement when she became involved in the 1960s, but she hasn’t looked back since. After divorcing her husband in 1972, she married University of California psychology professor William Soskin. She served as field representative for State Assemblywomen Dion Aroner and Loni Hancock, which led to her being involved in the development of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.
Although she serves as the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park interpretative ranger, she doesn’t hinge her lessons the iconic World War II figure that represented female factory workers. In fact, Reid Soskin said in a recent NPR interview that she doesn’t identify with Rosie The Riveter, as that was the narrative for White women at the time.
She chooses instead to highlight her own life and that of other African-Americans during the Second World War.
For the past 10 years, Reid Soskin has maintained a blog where she shares intimate details of her own history and that of other pioneering African Americans. It is a fascinating and eloquent living document of Black history worthy of attention.
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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Continue reading Little Known Black History Fact: Betty Reid Soskin