Environmental concerns emerged with freedom struggles
Soon after arriving in 1820, Light was named commissario general in charge of the sea otter trade to prevent the animals being hunted into extinction. His papers were found in Old Town San Diego more than a century later.
Like Buffalo Soldiers who patrolled national parks decades later, Light is part of a little-known aspect of American history, the nexus between the black freedom struggle and the use of the natural environment.
In many instances, particularly on the western frontier, their sensibility about co-existing with nature was as important a cause as their own freedom.
On Tuesday, Feb. 14, region 9 of the Environmental Protection Agency will hear a presentation about environmental protection and African-American heritage from John William Templeton, author of African-Americans in the West, a chapter in the Oxford Encyclopedia of African-American History, which will be videolinked to EPA offices throughout the region.