On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to a crowd of civil rights marchers gathered around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Less than four months earlier and half a world away, the first American reached the summit of Mount Everest.
So how are these two events connected?
To date, more than 6,000 people have summitted Everest, the highest point on Earth at 8,848.86 metres of elevation above sea level. And only a tiny handful of those climbers have been Black.
As of today, an all-Black team has never summited Everest. But right now, Full Circle Everest—a group of 11 Black climbers—is working to change that.
“Black role models help make the sport more inclusive,” said Fred Campbell, team member, former football player and athlete for The North Face. “Climbing is incredibly fun and if Black role models help convince someone somewhere to give it a shot I think that’s a positive thing.”
“Through climbing, I want to make connections and foster relationships with people,” says Compton, California–born Manoah Ainuu, another athlete for The North Face. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and connect with so many different people—whether it’s fellow athletes or younger Black kids living in places without climbing. That’s where I’m most focused right now. I hope to make a difference to those communities and those kids by being one of the few people like me who are able to do this.”
This attempt aims to highlight the many barriers that exist for Black communities to pursue outdoor goals, and inspire everyone to continue reaching for their own summits.
Follow Full Circle’s Everest summit progress here.