Tune In To Black History Month Panel Discussion With Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson

A panel discussion on the history of Buffalo Soldiers and their role in the early days of the National Park System will be carried on the Internet on Wednesday from 1 p.m.-2 p.m. Mountain, 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Central, and noon-1 p.m. Pacific.

Among the panelists will be Shelton Johnson, a Yosemite National Park ranger who long has portrayed a Buffalo Soldier in interpretive programs in the park, wrote a fictional book on Buffalo Soldiers, and who played a central role in the Ken Burns-Dayton Duncan documentary on the national parks, America's Best Idea.

Also on the panel will be Brian Shellum, who wrote a biography on Colonel Charles Young, an African-American soldier who in 1903 was appointed acting superintendent for Sequoia and General Grand national parks in California.

The panel discussion, sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association and available on Google+, will revolve on efforts around the country to commemorate the legacy of America’s post-Civil War black troops, the Buffalo Soldiers. There is also interest in honoring one of the men who helped lead the Buffalo Soldiers, Colonel Charles Young.

For the many soldiers who served in these segregated American Army units, their work was a pathway towards citizenship and self-sufficiency. The complex history of these men and their role as the original national park guardians confirms that the African American experience is indeed alive in our national parks, and well-deserved of enhanced attention.

Once the "Hangout" starts, the event will stream from this site. In order to ask questions in the Hangout, you'll need a Google+ account. However, the folks at NPCA will also be accepting questions via their Twitter and Facebook pages for those who don't have a Google+ account.