Age 96, Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest National Park Ranger, serving at the Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. Student reporter Maceo Carney interviewed Soskin for the February 22, 2018, Electronic Field Trip Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII.
Born in 1921, Sorkin grew up in Detroit, New Orleans, and California’s East Bay, near San Francisco. During World War II, she worked as a file clerk for the African-American local of the International Boilermakers Union in Richmond. In the webinar sequence, Carney speaks with Soskin about her work during World War II, addressing racial tensions and discrimination as the nation went to war. Soskin and Carney then tour the park’s permanent galleries inside its Visitor Education Center, discussing the origin and meaning of the term “Double Victory.” Betty shares specific details about the war work going on in Richmond and throughout the Bay Area, as well as personal experiences of being a young black woman during World War II.
Soskin received the Silver Service Medallion at the 2016 American Spirit Awards, a Museum honor recognizing veterans and those with a direct connection to World War II who have served our country with distinction and continue to lead by example. In a May 2016 profile of Soskin in The New Orleans Times-Picayune and NOLA.com, reporter John Pope noted that Soskin "almost always wears her ranger uniform, on- and off-duty." The uniform is "a silent announcement of a career path for every child of color who sees me," Soskin said. "I think it's extremely important."
Earlier, Soskin was a featured speaker at the Museum’s 2012 International Conference on World War II. Watch her presentation below.