Katy Bowman, author of Move Your DNA, and creator of the website Nutritious Movement, just published a wonderful annotated list of books from her library shelf on walking. The 20 Books to Inspire a Long Walk are meant to encourage and inspire people to do what their bodies are made for: walking. One of the books I am particularly interested in, and that I plan to order, is titled Families on Foot: Urban Hikes to Backyard Treks and National Park Adventures.
I wish I had a similar list of books to contribute to Bowman’s, but few writers of color have yet to contribute to this genre. (I wonder why?) There are some Black writers who have written about walking the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, while others have focused on the realities of Walking While Black, such as Garnette Cadogan. I believe the answer rests with generational pain and trauma suffered outdoors during slavery when Black Freedom Seekers were hunted by slave catchers in rural areas where they were enslaved on plantations. I recall having many conversations about pilgrimages I’ve made with friends who sadly expressed fear of isolation and vulnerability in the outdoors.
I view walking as a way of reclaiming the lost spirits who resisted enslavement and embraced freedom along the way. One book that I recently purchased, but I have yet to read, is called In their Path, A Grandmother’s 519-Mile Underground Railroad Walk by Joan E. Southgate & Fran Stewart. Another book I discovered through a quick online search is by Maureen Stone, titled A Black Woman Walking, A Different Experience of World Travel.
I recommend getting out and exploring the parks nearest you and then expanding your walking range as you feel more comfortable with your own abilities and the ground underfoot.