Senator Reverend Warnock secured $497,000 for the park in the annual government funding package
The project will preserve and promote the historical records and legacy of Black Georgians and Americans who set the foundations for today’s Okefenokee region
Senator Reverend Warnock: “I was proud to secure federal funds to ensure the stories of these patriotic Americans will be preserved and digitized to inspire future generations”
Washington, D.C. — This week, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) announced $497,000 in federal funding for Okefenokee Swamp Park in South Georgia. The funding was made possible by a Congressionally-directed spending request the Senator championed in the FY23 annual government funding package, and will go towards a project dedicated to collecting, preserving, and digitizing the historical records and manuscripts of the Okefenokee Swamp Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company 1433. Company 1433 was a group of nearly 200 Black workers who were instrumental to the foundation and development of the Okefenokee refuge from 1937 to 1941.
This project presents a new opportunity to highlight Company 1433, the group responsible for saving the wildlife species on the verge of losing their habitats, and their historic contributions to the Okefenokee region. These federal funds will be utilized to purchase the equipment and hire the personnel necessary to preserve, digitize, and archive the historic records that help tell this story. These funds will also support the fees associated with collecting records to create a fully functioning archival database that will build awareness for the contributions of Black Georgians and Americans who helped make the Okefenokee region the cultural and ecological landmark it is today.
“The Okefenokee region was a crucial safe haven for many Black Americans in the New Deal era,” said Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock. “This all-Black Civilian Conservation Corps revitalized the broader region, which is important and often overlooked in our state’s history. I was proud to secure federal funds to ensure the stories of these patriotic Americans will be preserved and digitized to inspire future generations.”
The history of this all-Black Civilian Conservation Corps unit will be accessible via a centralized online database, public exhibitions at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, and classrooms across the South Georgia region–immersing students and visitors in an educational experience that will promote understanding, appreciation, and conversation of the historical and cultural significance of the Civilian Conservation Corps to the surrounding region.
See additional coverage of the new project below:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New project to explore history of Okefenokee’s Black conservationists
October 11, 2023
- Experts say the Okefenokee would not be in the pristine condition it is in today without a little-known group of Black conservationists. Now, a project is getting underway to document the critical roles they played in protecting the swamp, with the help of new federal funding.
- On Wednesday, the nonprofit Okefenokee Swamp Park announced it would receive near $500,000 to tell the story of Okefenokee Swamp Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1433, a group of almost 200, all-Black environmentalists, who helped found the refuge in 1937.
- Company 1433′s young members — all males between the ages of 18 and 25 — helped build bridges and roads, create firebreaks, plant trees, and develop recreational facilities in the early days of the refuge.
- The money was directed to the project by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., who said in a statement that he was proud to secure the funding.
- The project aims to collect, preserve and digitize records on Company 1433, which will be shared with the public through an online database. The money will also help fund the creation of a series of exhibits at the Okefenokee Swamp Park and development of an 8th-grade curriculum for teachers in counties surrounding the swamp to share the research’s findings with their students.
- Jess Neal, the archivist who is leading the project, said that many Civilian Conservation Corps programs discriminated against African-Americans, making the all-Black composition of the Okefenokee’s unit unique. Neal said she hopes her research will lead to more exploration of Black environmentalists’ contributions around the country.
October 11, 2023
- The Okefenokee Swamp Park has landed $497,000 in federal funding for a research project aimed at telling the story of a group of young Black Americans who worked to develop the park during the Great Depression.
- The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a nationwide New Deal program formed to provide employment and vocational training to young Americans ages 18 through 25.
- The federal funds will go toward a project dedicated to collecting, preserving, and digitizing historical records and manuscripts pertaining to Company 1433’s efforts. The database the project produces will be made accessible to the public to promote an awareness of the historical and cultural significance of the CCC to both the swamp and surrounding communities.
- “The Okefenokee region was a crucial safe haven for many Black Americans in the New Deal era,” said U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., who requested the federal funding for the project. “This all-Black Civilian Conservation Corps revitalized the broader region, which is important and often overlooked in our state’s history.”
- The Okefenokee Swamp is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, encompassing roughly 700 square miles. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, renowned worldwide for exceptional habitat and species diversity, is preparing a bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Okefenokee Swamp Park was founded in 1946 at the northern entrance to the swamp near Waycross to provide visitor access and interpretive education aimed at developing an appreciation of the swamp’s wildlife, cultural and natural beauty.