Recently, California Humanities staff had a chance to listen to and meet with Betty Reid Soskin, who at the age of 94 is the oldest full-time National Park Ranger in the United States. Soskin is assigned to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Historical Park in Richmond, California.
Born in Detroit in 1921, spending her early childhood in New Orleans and finally moving to the East Bay in 1927, Soskin started working at the Historical Park shipyards as a file clerk during World War II. After the shipyards, Soskin went on to work in academia, as a songwriter during the Civil Rights Movement, as a community activist, and as a field representative for California Assemblywomen Dion Aroner and Loni Hancock, which led to her work designing and ultimately working at Rosie the Riveter Park.
The Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond produced 747 ships during World War II and were the most productive shipyards in history. In addition, Richmond had a total of 55 war industries. Richmond also has a large number of intact historical buildings from the period and the Richmond Museum Association, one of the park’s cooperative partners, operates the SS Red Oak Victory, the last remaining Victory Ship built in the Richmond Shipyards. Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park was established in Richmond, California in 2000, to tell this national story.
There are many ways to help support this national park, including the Rosie Rally and Home Front Festival on Saturday, August 13! Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, along with Rosie the Riveter Trust, the City of Richmond, and other great partners, are hoping for a turnout of 5,000 to help break last year’s record for the most people dressed as Rosie the Riveter in one place! Find out how you can join in!