Betty Reid Soskin is 92-years-old young. A milestone to make it to that age and have more energy than most of the human race. Yesterday, I had the pleasure to hear Ms. Soskin talk at the Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park in Richmond, California. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be inspired.
Soskin is the oldest National Parks Ranger in the United States and amazing role model. She’s lived a colorful life and willing to share each moment in vivid detail. Rosie’s Daughters organized the event and according to their website: “We started Rosie’s Daughters as a way to create a comfortable space in which to share our own stories and to listen to the experiences of other incredible women. The name ‘Rosie’s Daughters’ was inspired by the iconic Rosie the Riveter – a symbol that originated in the Bay Area – and is a reminder to all of us to try new things, test our limits, and believe in ourselves.”
Richmond was the wartime shipbuilding capital in World War II. Different races and sexes united to produce ships to help win the war. The city experienced a surge of diversity and a major increase in population searching for opportunities. Despite the racial tensions and discrimination, work was completed together to build a foundation for future generations. Minorities were slowly given the “chance” at jobs not allowed to them in the past. Women proved that they could do work considered only suitable for their male counterparts. A time of crisis broke many racial and gender barriers. The battle for equality continues today and Ms. Soskin declared that her job is “…helping to guard the authenticity of our truth.”
From NBC Bay Area news: “But Soskin is more than just a tour guide. She is living history, and considers herself a ‘primary source’ of information for the exhibit. During World War II, Soskin worked as a clerk for the all-black Boilermakers A-36. In the true sense of the word, she is not a ‘Rosie,’ because that title is typically held for female wartime shipyard workers who were white. Still, Soskin feels her views — and experiences as an African-American woman during World War II — are invaluable to the country’s collective wartime memory.” She displayed no fear informing visitors of our nation’s truth.
Soskin is our history and her legacy will continue to flourish in the future. Her presence defines how the human spirit can push past adversity and succeed. Thank you Ms. Soskin for a wonderful Saturday to remember. Her tenacity and courage provides hope for us all.