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Film documents African American mountaineers

Film documents African American mountaineers


Green-flix, SUNY Cortland’s environmental documentary series, will present “An American Ascent,” about the first African American expedition to climb North America’s highest peak, Denali, in a virtual watch party on Monday, March 15.

The 70-minute film, which chronicles the nine-member team as they tackle the grueling, 20,310-foot peak of the continent’s biggest mountain, will begin at 7 p.m.

At 8:15 p.m., a live virtual discussion will take place featuring an alumni panel facilitated by Sharon Todd, professor and chair of the Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department. All alumni panelists are department graduates.

The event is free and open to everyone. Participants must RSVP by completing a form to receive a meeting link.

SUNY Cortland faculty and staff can stream the film from the library for free any time before the discussion. For more information, email

Panelists include:

  • Raul “Rocci” Aguirre ’95, executive director of policy, advocacy and science for Scenic Hudson
  • Grequan Carter ’17, program director and leadership development at Inclusive Woods & Us
  • LaAsia Swift ’19, case worker, The Children’s Village; youth outreach worker, Safe Horizon

The nation’s wild places belong to all Americans, but not all of us use these resources equally. Minority populations are much less likely to seek recreation, adventure and solace in our wilderness spaces.

“An American Ascent” shows how the team set out to build a legacy of inclusion in the outdoor/adventure community. The documentary addresses often overlooked issues of race and the outdoors as it follows the team up the mountain, chronicling the many challenges of climbing one of the world’s most iconic peaks.

The event is co-sponsored by the Sustainability Office; the Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department; Campus Artist and Lecture Series; and the New York State Master Teacher Program.