Betty Reid Siskin is the oldest National Park Ranger serving in the United States at age 99. Even after suffering a stroke, Betty returned to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II National Park in Richmond, California. Betty’s age means her candid historical talks bear extra significance, as she shares her own personal experiences as well as the history of African Americans during wartime.
Betty served in a Jim Crow segregated union hall, experienced redlining in Berkeley, and worked alongside the Black Panthers. In her memoir, Sign My Name to Freedom, Betty shares the experience of Black Americans throughout her own lifetime.
Betty has been very politically active throughout her life, particularly throughout the Civil Rights era speaking on what it’s like to be Black in America. In the ‘80s, Betty worked with Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport to build low-income housing. She later went on to work for California Assemblywoman Dion Aroner.
It was with Aroner that Betty became involved with the planning of the Rosie the Riveter park. Betty has always spoke to the experiences of African Americans in wartime, during a period when segregation in California meant none of the Rosie the Riveter stories reflected the experiences of Black people.