Betty Reid Soskin has had a fascinating life and after working 15 years at California's Rosie the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, she decided she was finally ready to retire at the age of 100.
Soskin was proud to have an active role in educating visitors about women who worked at factories during World War II as she led tours at the park and museum, especially since she had her own personal experience to share. “Being a primary source in the sharing of that history – my history – and giving shape to a new national park has been exciting and fulfilling,” Soskin said in a Park Service statement. “It has proven to bring meaning to my final years.”
Park Services Director, Chuck Sam said, “Her efforts remind us that we must seek out and give space for all perspectives so that we can tell a more full and inclusive history of our nation.”
Soskin, who was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1921. She survived the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 with her family in New Orleans. After moving to California's Bay Area, she began working for the U.S. Air Force in 1942, but quit when she learned that "she was employed only because her superiors believed she was white.” In 1945 she and her first husband opened one of the first black-owned record stores in the Bay Area. Later, Soskin became a civil rights activist and was worked to help on the planning of the Home Front park she would later work at.
- In 1995 Betty Reid Soskin was name California Woman of the Year
- In 2015 she was honored with an entry in the U.S. Congressional Record and received a presidential coin from President Barack Obama after lighting the National Christmas tree at the White House
- In 2018 Soskin was named Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine