Open letter: We condemn anti-Black racism, are allies for equality in our parks and communities

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Black Lives Matter—here at the Parks Conservancy, on our public lands and across the nation. We condemn anti-Black racism. 

Racial injustice and inequities across society have been a part of national systemic discrimination and bias for far too long. They will not be our future.  

We are committed to the active work of being anti-racist. The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy fundamentally rejects all behaviors, beliefs, and judgements that erode the rights and freedom of people. As a nonprofit parks group, the Parks Conservancy seeks to create positive and transformative experiences in our parks and open spaces. Yet we understand that not everyone has easy access to parks, nor the comfort to feel welcomed. We can and will do more. 

We believe in the power of nature, public lands and the history of resistance to inspire and educate. Our national park system commemorates civil struggles in America. Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio, and the Occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indians of All Tribes. Manzanar National Historic Site, Cesar E. Chavez National Monument and Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. These and other national park sites honor the sacrifices of people who fought to advance social justice and human rights. 

To be a part of change, we must be allies for equality and against all racism. But words without action have no meaning. Together with our partners and supporters, the Parks Conservancy commits to putting communities first. We will engage in more dialogue with Black, Indigenous and People of Color—so that we are able to better understand and respond to what they want and need from parks.  

Guided by our staff and partners, we will better engage those outside our organization and do the necessary internal work to be genuinely inclusive. This includes critical examination of the underlying biases of our organization and how they manifest in hiring practices, relationships with vendors and partners, and engagement with the Black community as visitors to parks. We will actively support and fund employee affinity groups designed by our staff. The Parks Conservancy has created a new role, Executive Vice President of People and Culture, to help us with this important work.  

This is just the start of our conversation. We know it will be a long journey to implement specific actions on how we will address systemic inequities within our parks and organization. 

Christine Lehnertz, President & CEO and Colin Lind, Chair of Board of Trustees 
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy