Born in Detroit, raised in New Orleans, and making California her home for the majority of her life, at the age of 97 Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest US National Park Ranger and an eloquent storyteller. We recognize Ms. Soskin’s past achievements and her current successes.
Ms. Soskin’s memoir, Sign My Name to Freedom, chronicles her personal experiences of living through great social change. In this book, Soskin shares her nine decades of experience of “living while black” and chronicles her life as a granddaughter of slaves, as a wife, mother, and local business owner, from singer/songwriter to civil rights activist and much more. You can read more about her book here.
Earlier this year, California Humanities awarded a California Documentary Project production grant for a documentary titled Sign My Name to Freedom through the International Documentary Association to filmmakers A.K. Sandhu and Bryan Gibel. This documentary will follow Ms. Soskin as she teams up with the iconic Bay Area jazz composer and performer Marcus Shelby and a young band to perform new arrangements of the songs she wrote and sang in the 60s and 70s, reflecting her experiences at the time.
Watch an interview clip of Betty Reid Soskin by California Humanities. This interview is part of the We Are the Humanities series of interviews with prominent Californians on the meaning of the humanities answered the following questions:
What are the humanities? Why do they matter? How have they made a difference in your life?