Moving Forward Initiative

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Launched by The Corps Network (TCN) in the spring of 2017, Moving Forward is an initiative to expand career exposure and increase employment in conservation and resource management for youth and young adults of color. TCN will explore unconscious bias and structural racism within The Corps Network, our member Corps, and America’s land management agencies. Often unintentional, unquestioned bias limits opportunities for young adults of color and feeds off economic inequality, which we will also address in this initiative.

TCN describes this work in racial equity as a journey and not just as trainings. The start of this journey is the development of a foundation of knowledge on which to examine racism in the United States and our own connections to institutional racism. TCN will provide tools and education to our staff, staff at our member Corps, youth enrolled in our Corps, and staff at America’s federal resource management agencies to make all parties more aware and better prepared to address bias and structural racism.

The vision of the Moving Forward Initiative is a space where young people of color are more aware of career opportunities in conservation and resource management; they are ensured equal access to these careers; and the agencies that manage our public lands are more culturally competent and aware of the history that has shaped the conservation workforce. The Initiative is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 


Why This is Important
Failure to address systems and knowledge deficits that limit opportunities for Corps alumni would be antithetical to TCN’s mission of helping Corps empower America’s youth. At the intersection of Corps, which train the next generation of conservation professionals, and the agencies that hire such professionals, TCN is uniquely positioned to – with the guidance of experts in racial equity – help make racial equity the standard in resource management. Young adults of color represent roughly of half of our Corpsmembers, and, with the development of native youth programs and the expansion of Corps in both urban and rural areas, we realize that this number will grow.  

TCN recognizes the racial inequities at the origin of Corps. Created in 1933, during the time of Jim Crow, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) separated black and white corpsmen into different camps. Though they represented 10 percent of overall membership, African-American corpsmen had little opportunity to climb the leadership ranks. Qualified men were overlooked and, when eventually hired, often faced hostile and racist work environments.

As TCN’s member Corps train diverse young adults for the resource management workforce, it is essential that we recognize past injustices and do our part to help create a conservation work environment in which diversity is celebrated. 


MFI Blog

Moving Forward Initiative Guest Series: Interview with Dr. Andrew W. Kahrl on African American Leisure and Recreation Spaces in the Era of Jim Crow
November 7, 2017


Moving Forward Initiative - Blog: The African American Experience in the Civilian Conservation Corps
August 17, 2017


Moving Forward Initiative - What it is and What to Expect
July 14, 2017


Resource Library 

Moving Forward Initiative one-page fact sheet (7/26/17)



  • The African American Experience in the Civilian Conservation Corps
    Olen Cole Jr.

    Between 1933 and 1942, nearly 200,000 young African Americans participated in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of Roosevelt’s most successful New Deal agencies. In an effort to correct the lack of historical attention paid to the African-American contribution to the CCC, Olen Cole, Jr., examines their participation in the corps as well as its impact on them. Though federal legislation establishing the CCC held that no bias of "race, color, or creed" was to be tolerated, Cole demonstrates that the very presence of African Americans in the CCC, as well as the placement of the segregated CCC work camps in predominantly white California communities, became significant sources of controversy.
    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Race in the Outdoors

    Date Added: 8/17/17

  • The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South
    Andrew W. Kahrl

    By reconstructing African American life along the coast, Kahrl demonstrates just how important these properties were for African American communities and leisure, as well as for economic empowerment, especially during the era of Jim Crow in the South.
    Category: History, Economics
    Date Added: 11/7/17


  • The Spirit of an Activist: The Life and Work of I. DeQuincey Newman
    Sadye L. M. Logan
    The Spirit of an Activist chronicles the life and distinguished career of Isaiah DeQuincey Newman (1911–1985), a Protestant pastor, civil rights leader, and South Carolina statesman. Known as a tenacious advocate for racial equality, Newman was also renowned for his diplomatic skills when working with opponents and his advocacy of nonviolent protest over confrontation. His leadership and dedication to peaceful change played an important role in the dismantling of segregation in South Carolina.
    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Race in the Outdoors
    Date Added: 8/17/17


  • Landscapes of Exclusion: State Parks and Jim Crow in the American South
    William E. O'Brien

    From early in the twentieth century, the state park movement sought to expand public access to scenic American places. During the 1930s those efforts accelerated as the National Park Service used New Deal funding and labor to construct parks nationwide. However, under severe Jim Crow restrictions in the South, African Americans were routinely and officially denied entrance to these sites. In response, advocacy groups pressured the National Park Service to provide some facilities for African Americans. William E. O’Brien shows that these parks were typically substandard in relation to “white only” areas.
    Category: History, Conservation & the Outdoors
    Date Added: 11/7/17



  • The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942: A New Deal Case Study
    John A. Salmond
    The act of March 31, 1933, which gave the CCC legal existence, contained the clause: "That in employing citizens for the purpose of this Act, no discrimination shall be made on account of race, color, and creed." [1] The intention was clearly to protect the rights of Negro citizens within the CCC organization, but these mere words did not insure them full benefits from the newly created agency
    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Race in the Outdoors

    Date Added: 8/17/17


Articles (Non-Academic)

  • African American Life During the Great Depression and The New Deal
    Encyclopedia Britanica

    The Great Depression of the 1930s worsened the already bleak economic situation of African Americans. They were the first to be laid off from their jobs, and they suffered from an unemployment rate two to three times that of whites.
    Category: History, Racism
    Date Added: 8/17/17


  • Segregation/Desegregation
    Reed Engle - Resource Management Newsletter (January 1996)

    Cultural Resource Specialist Reed Engle looks at the segregation and desegregation of Shenandoah National Park.
    Category: History, Conservation & the Outdoors
    Date Added: 11/7/17


  • Roosevelt's Tree Army: The Civilian Conservation Corps
    Digital Public Library of America

    Separate programs were run for Native Americans that focused on efforts to improve reservations. These efforts centered on road building, structural improvements to reservations, and improvements to water development and erosion control. Native American CCC men were allowed to return home in the evenings instead of living in a separate camp, since many of them were married.
    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Race in the Outdoors
    Date Added: 8/17/17



  • How the 1964 Civil Rights Act Cost Black America
    Leslie Goff - New African Magazine (May 8, 2014)

    A look at how the Civil Rights Act led to the movement of African Americans to white suburbs and the decline of African American businesses, cultural institutions and community in urban areas.
    Category: History, Economics
    Date Added: 11/7/17



  • Civilian Conservation Corps, Racial Segregation, and the Building of the Angeles National Forest
    Daniel Medina
     - (Feb. 10, 2014)

    The Angeles National Forest, granting Los Angeles County 70% of its open space, is today considered the most accessible and popular "playground" in Southern California. Its prominent recreational legacy is rooted in the efforts of work relief programs from the Great Depression, notably the labor of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Race in the Outdoors
    Date Added: 8/17/17 


  • Nature's calling -- for more human diversity
    Alexandra Pattillo - CNN (Sept. 12, 2017)
    A look at the health benefits of spending time outdoors and how to make these benefits and outdoor experiences more accessible and welcoming to a more diverse population.
    Category: Diversity, Race in the Outdoors
    Date Added: 10/13/17


  • A Legend and his Catskills Resort for Blacks
    Michael Winerip - The New York Times (July 15, 1985)

    A look at Peg Leg Bates Country Club, a resort for African Americans in the Catskill Mountains of New York that operated from the 1950s to the 1980s. The business closed two years after publication of this article and now sits abandoned.
    Category: History
    Date Added: 11/7/17


Articles (Academic)

  • African American Youth in the Program of the Civilian Conservation Corps in California, 1933-1942
    Olen Cole, Jr.

    Subtitled “An Ambivalent Legacy,” this look at the service of African Americans in the Civilian Conservation Corps in California uses research and interviews with African American CCC alumni to specifically ask what Corpsmen gained from the experience.

    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Race in the Outdoors
    Date Added: 8/17/17 

  • The Integration of African Americans in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Massachusetts
    Caitlin E. Pinkham

    The Civilian Conservation Corps employed young white and black men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. In 1935 Robert Fechner, the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps, ordered the segregation of Corps camps across the country. Massachusetts’ camps remained integrated due in large part to low funding and a small African American population. The experiences of Massachusetts’ African American population present a new general narrative of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Race in the Outdoors
    Date Added: 8/17/17




Primary Sources


  • The Negro Motorist Green Book
    Victor H. Green

    Digital copies of the several editions of The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide published annually from 1936 – 1967 that listed lodging, restaurants and businesses that catered to African Americans. Collection curated by New York Public Library.
    Category: History
    Date Added: 11/7/17


  • "A Negro in the CCC"
    Luther Wandall

    A personal account of life in the CCC from Luther Wandall, an Afircan American corpsmen from New York who served in Virginia.

    Category: History, Civilian Conservation Corps, Racism
    Date Added: 9/5/17