“You shouldn’t have to convince people to go to paradise,” says Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. As an African American, he is unsettled by the fact that only 1 percent of those who visit Yosemite share his race. The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks follows the brief journey of a group of African American seniors from Los Angeles, California, as they experience these sacred lands. Made by Amy Marquis, with the support of the National Park Conservation Association, the film shows not only what people of color are missing, it also imparts their historic relationship with the park. Affable ranger Johnson — who came to Mountainfilm in 2009 with the debut of Ken Burns’s national parks series — is looking to reverse the trend by reminding African Americans that they have a long-standing connection to Yosemite: After the Civil War, the U.S. Army’s Buffalo Soldiers were dispatched to the Western frontier and became the park’s first stewards.
- Amy Marquis