In a blast of media exposure that just must rival, if not surpass, Ken Burns' documentary on the national parks, Oprah Winfrey is about to devote two shows to her visit to Yosemite National Park.
The talk show host, who wonders why more African-Americans don't visit national parks, went camping at the invitation of Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson, an African-American who has worked both to preserve the memory of Buffalo Soldiers and to lure more African-Americans to the parks.
On Friday and next Monday Ms. Winfrey will showcase the visit she made to Yosemite earlier this month.
Ranger Johnson, who was featured in Ken Burns National Parks: America's Best Idea, invited Oprah to visit the park several years ago. During her trip to the park the ranger, leading an evening campfire program at the Lower Pines Campground in the Yosemite Valley, told the story of a detachment of Buffalo Soldiers -- African-American Army cavalry troops -- patrolling the Yosemite backcountry on horseback.
The two shows will feature Oprah's visit and activities such as fly-fishing and a mule ride. Oprah also questions why there aren’t more visitors of color in national parks. Ranger Johnson has been working on this issue for a long time.
"All Snoop Dogg has to do is go camping in Yosemite and it would change the world," said Ranger Johnson in a San Francisco Chronicle article last year. "If Oprah Winfrey went on a road trip to the national parks, it would do more than I have done in my whole career."
The ranger was clearly excited by Oprah's visit and called it a seismic event. See his youtube interview.
In a memo published in Outdoor Afro, a blog that strives to reconnect African-Americans with nature, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said that, "Ms. Winfrey’s visit and the popularity of her show offer the National Park Service an unprecedented opportunity to reach a vast audience of potential first-time visitors and to start a conversation with them."
Oprah's shows will reach more than 30 million viewers and many more on her website, Oprah.Com.
Watch the show on Friday 29, read a review on the Traveler this weekend, and join the conversation.