As Robert Stanton stood on the stage of the Gateway Arch Nationwide Park Customer Heart auditorium Thursday night, he reminded the viewers of the Nationwide Park Service’s authentic mission established within the Nationwide Park Service Natural Act of 1916.
Stanton, a former director of the NPS and scholar in residence within the Faculty of Schooling on the College of Missouri–St. Louis, spoke poetically, but forcefully, on the topic to a rapt viewers of about 50 members of the united states and higher St. Louis communities.
He famous that the Natural Act established the NPS as a bureau of the United States Division of the Inside, however extra importantly, set forth its duty to protect, promote and regulate the nation’s valuable pure assets for the good thing about all Individuals.
“The mandate, the recurring duty of your Nationwide Park Service, is to maximise any assets that is likely to be out there,” Stanton stated. “It has a duty by regulation to attempt to join each American citizen with their heritage – each pure and cultural – that’s preserved within the Nationwide Parks. Give it some thought my buddies – an superior duty.”
Over the course of an hour, Stanton mentioned the bureau’s pursuit of that mission and the strides, and missteps, it has made whereas additionally peppering in a number of historical past classes. The discuss was a part of a particular occasion, “Reshaping the Nationwide Park Service for ALL: An Night with the Honorable Robert G. Stanton,” sponsored by UMSL, the Nationwide Park Service and the Jefferson Nationwide Parks Affiliation. The occasion additionally included temporary remarks by UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik, President and CEO of the Jefferson Nationwide Parks Affiliation Davide Grove, NPS Regional Director Herbert C. Frost and NPS Regional Relevancy, Range and Inclusion Program Supervisor Nichole McHenry.
Stanton started his profession with the NPS in 1962 as a seasonal park ranger at Grand Teton Nationwide Park, changing into one of many first Black rangers to work on the park. He had been recruited to serve within the place below the auspices of then-Secretary of the Inside Stewart Udall, who was making a concerted effort to diversify the NPS workforce.
That summer season led to Stanton’s storied profession serving the NPS as a ranger, superintendent, deputy regional director, assistant director, affiliate director, and regional director of the Nationwide Capital Area. In 1997, it culminated with President Clinton naming him the fifteenth director of the NPS. The historic nomination made him the primary Black director within the bureau’s historical past and the primary director to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Experiential and Household Schooling Theresa Coble was drawn to Stanton’s story in addition to his experience in historic preservation and pure assets and tapped him to function a scholar in residence for her Heritage Management for Sustainability, Social Justice and Participatory Tradition doctoral cohort at UMSL.
“This distinctive program permits doctoral college students to look at the hyperlink between pure and cultural heritage whereas additionally grappling with the troublesome subjects surrounding heritage websites corresponding to bias, ethics, oppression, privilege and trauma, they usually achieve this below the steerage of Nationwide Park Service consultants,” Sobolik stated. “Considered one of these consultants is Bob Stanton who joined our campus as a scholar in residence within the Faculty of Schooling this final yr. Bob has introduced depth, nuance, knowledge and expertise to our EdD college students, and he’s helped them develop new abilities and views they couldn’t get in some other method.”
Stanton touched on a number of of these troublesome subjects Thursday.
Throughout his profession, Stanton labored diligently to extend the range of the bureau’s workers and public applications to higher serve minority populations in an effort stay as much as the bureau’s founding ideas. It’s a problem the doctoral cohort usually examines and one Stanton invited the viewers to contemplate.
“The persevering with debate is, do the areas represented within the park system actually replicate the richness of our variety, the richness of our heritage?” Stanton stated. “In case you have been to try the 424 areas which have come into the Nationwide Park System prior to now 20 to 30 years, you’ll see that many areas now signify in a fuller sense, the breadth of what I refer continuously to because the ‘face of America.’”
Nevertheless, this was not all the time the case.
Stanton known as consideration to Scott v. Emerson, a courtroom case determined mere blocks from Gateway Arch on the Outdated Courthouse that may ultimately go all the way in which to the Supreme Courtroom as Dred Scott v. Sanford. The courtroom’s resolution in that case held that the U.S. Structure didn’t lengthen citizenship to individuals of African descent, and due to this fact, they weren’t entitled to rights and privileges conferred by the Structure.
He additionally pointed to Plessy v. Ferguson, the landmark Supreme Courtroom case that grew to become the premise for the “insidious” doctrine of “separate however equal.” It was a doctrine Stanton skilled as a younger man, and one which demonstrably affected Nationwide Parks.
“It was a doctrine of which I lived below for twenty-four years – completely nothing equal below that doctrine,” Stanton stated. “However how wouldn’t it play out within the Nationwide Parks? Effectively, because it was constitutional which you can train discrimination or segregation, what occurred in lots of situations is that the parks in these states and jurisdictions that actively supported and practiced segregation kind of fell in line.”
Stanton inspired the viewers to not draw back from such harsh realities in American historical past. As an alternative, he advocated viewing them as alternatives to be taught and make higher strides towards equality.
“We now have actually erred,” he stated. “We now have made grievous errors, however we’re mature and imaginative as a individuals and as a nation. In case you are mature, you could be open and trustworthy that you’ve made a mistake. However that’s just one half of it. The opposite is that you’ve a resolve, to not repeat, however moderately to develop from that mistake.”
Nationwide Parks, and the historical past and heritage they comprise, can play an instrumental function in that progress. Moreover, partnerships with establishments corresponding to UMSL can bolster that potential.
“The Park Service is a laboratory and a library of how we have now made our selections and what steps we have to proceed to advance,” Stanton stated. “The teachings have been taught as to what the implications are after we make a mistake. The true duty is, are we prepared to be taught?
“Studying is troublesome. You need to put away previous ideas and previous methods of doing issues. However the College of Missouri–St. Louis is offering the assets and help for all of us to be taught, and the Nationwide Park Service will stand with you in that endeavor.”
Stanton closed his speech with a quote from civil rights activist and humanitarian Mary McLeod Bethune and a name for a brighter future.
“I depart you a duty to our youth,” he stated, quoting Bethune. “The world round us actually belongs to youth. For youth will take over its future administration. Our youth mustn’t ever lose their zeal for constructing a greater world. They need to not be discouraged from aspiring in direction of greatness. For they’re to be the leaders of tomorrow.”
Brief URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/information/?p=96555