‘Legacy on the Land’ reveals diversity of National Park heroes

January 24, 2011, 11:26 am

On the opposite side of the country, in Biscayne Bay, Fla., “Pahson” LaFayette Jones bought the island of Porgy Key and moved his family there in 1897. Pahson, his wife Mozelle and their sons, King Arthur Jones and Sir Lancelot Jones, coaxed an agricultural empire from the coral rock soil, eventually owning two and one-half islands and supplying all the limes and pineapples along the Southeast coast, down to Key West. But when enterprising businessmen came calling in the 1960s, with a vision of turning the islands into “Miami Beach No. 2,” Sir Lancelot Jones torpedoed the deal. He chose instead to sell his land to the National Park Service, enabling the creation of Biscayne National Park, which is today the largest marine park in the National Park System.

These are but a few of the powerful but little-known stories of the heroism of Americans of African American, Asian, Hispanic and Native backgrounds that are told in the book, “Legacy On the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care.”

“Americans are heirs to the greatest treasury on the face of the Earth,” says Audrey Peterman who wrote the book with her husband, Frank. “We were the first country to come up with the idea of national parks, setting aside the most scenic, historic and culturally important lands for the ‘benefit and enjoyment of the people.’ These places allow us to see what we were, where we are coming from, and the real story of what Americans of every race and ethnic group contributed to getting us here.”

The Petermans say that just as the stories of the contributions of Americans of color to the National Park System are “hidden in plain view,” their current involvement in the environmental movement is just as overlooked.

Read more at thewestsidegazette.com.