Inaugural Black Birders Week Sparks Additional Initiatives

Author: Michelle Russell       

How can events — in-person and digital — be agents of social transformation?

That’s how I started a story earlier this month about the launch of Black Birders Week in response to a racially charged incident in New York City’s Central Park between a white woman and a Black birder, Christian Cooper. Intended to increase representation and recognition of Black bird watchers, the inaugural digital event — held just weeks ago — has already led to other social change initiatives.

A National Geographic newsletter reports that as a result of the weeklong event, the National Wildlife Federation is now expanding its conservation fellowships and internships to create opportunities specifically for young biologists of color (students and recent grads) to help more Black birders follow conservation careers. And several small organizations joined together to start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy binoculars and field guides for Black K-12 students in Athens, Georgia. The Binoculars for Young Black Birders campaign exceeded the initial goal of raising $5,000 and ended up raising more than $17,000.

Black Birders co-founder Corina Newsome inspired appreciative National Geographic reader and artist Aliisa Lee Bocarsly, who created the drawing below of Newsome.