Justin Forrest Parks was one of many climbers to attend the first-ever Color the Crag festival, which took place last fall at Horse Pens 40.

The mission of Color the Crag is to celebrate diversity in the world of rock climbing.

“Our mission is to increase access and exposure to historically marginalized communities by building relationships, encouraging leadership, and providing positive representation of climbing and physical activity among populations of color.”

By hosting an event supporting diversity, the festival is directly supporting and connecting climbers of color.

“We will strengthen communities, increase leadership, and begin the conversation concerning other issues affecting our communities such as accessibility, public health awareness, and environmental education and advocacy.”

Forrest Parks has written about his experience. Below is an excerpt from the article he wrote, go read it here.

“Many of us who identify as climbers of color can relate to being the only person who looks like us at the crag or climbing gym. While the climbing community is extremely welcoming and accepting, it’s easy to feel socially isolated in a sport that doesn’t reflect the rich cultural and ethnic diversity in the United States. Especially if you’ve grown up in diverse neighborhoods with a diverse array of friends.

Thank you so much @firstascentclimbing for featuring me on the FA member spotlight and for providing me with a place to laugh, love and grow. So much love to you all!!! @Regranned from @firstascentclimbing – We are psyched to shine the FA Member Spotlight on Justin Parks @forrest_in_the_forrest this month! Read about Justin's climbing journey in our latest blog post – link in bio. Justin will be repping the Chicago climbing community at the Color the Crag Climbing Festival @colorthecrag put on by the Brothers Of Climbing @boccrew and Brown Girls Climb @browngirlsclimb later this month – join him to help promote diversity in the climbing community! 📷 @edyu91 #climbing #climber #spotlight #memberspotlight #letsclimbchicago – #regrann

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“Sports, like climbing, that aren’t well integrated, leave athletes of color with choices like: you can either have a diverse set of friends or you can climb every weekend. You can’t do both. Then there are the anxieties and insecurities of being “the only one.”

So many climbing videos, gear advertisements and brand ambassadorships feature only White faces; which makes a strong statement in 2017 when 38 per cent of Americans are people of color, which leaves us wondering, ‘Is this space for me?’ or ‘Am I welcome here?’

“Thanks to groups like Brothers of Climbing and Brown Girls Climb—the organizers of Color the Crag, Melanin Base Camp, Natives Outdoors, Flash Foxy, Latino Outdoors and a few other organizations, we now have online spaces in which we can share photos, videos and tell our own stories as women and men of color and lovers of climbing and the outdoors.”

Go follow these fantastic Instagram accounts if you don’t already.

We are very excited to announce the dates for the 2018 Color the Crag Climbing Festival! Save the dates for October 18th-21st to meet @boccrew and @browngirlsclimb and many other friends at the only Climbing festival dedicated to celebrating diversity on the rock and outdoors! We will be gathering at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, Alabama to climb some of the finest sandstone in the south! ALL levels are welcome and ALL people are welcome. More to come soon so keep an eye out on our social media pages and our website colorthecrag.com! Congrats to the winner of our 2017 CTC @adventurevisionaries photography contest📸: @waddystryker and this awesome shot of @travis.be ! #melaninmatters #colorthecrag #boccrew #browngirlsclimb #diversifyoutdoors

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