Betty Reid Soskin is a masterful historian, story teller, and activist. Three times a week she sits in a small auditorium and tells her stories. No technology, no photos, no slide deck just one compelling park ranger sitting on a kitchen stool weaving her life experiences into yours. She has mastered story telling with such grace and power that we hear new truths, often painful truths of our American history, and still leave feeling empowered. Soskin has mastered the power and edge of story telling. Yet these are not stories, they are truths.
Betty Reid Siskin, 96, is the nations oldest National Park ranger. She works at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. This petite woman with a mighty spirit guides listeners through her life as an activist. She honors the Rosie the Riveter’s truths and with grit, grace and determination adds her own truths as an African American woman to the complex landscape of WWII. Her new book Sign My Name to Freedom, is not just about WWII but a life long effort to fight for equity.
Soskin’s historical talks at the park museum’s small theater routinely sell out, and she has become what she calls with some surprise “a D-list celebrity.” At barely five feet tall and barely 90 pounds, Soskin’s power comes from her personal history and from her willingness to talk about it plainly and honestly, not mincing words. She talks quietly and without rancor, but with an iron will. [Read more…]