Celebrating Black History with Pearl H. Vaughn

Pearl H. Vaughn

Pearl H. Vaughn was an innovative educator, community recreation leader, and a true trailblazer. As an active member of NRPA, “Mother Pearl,” as she was known, was an enthusiastic participant in the affairs of the Society of Parks and Recreation Educators, and the Ethnic Minority Society. It was through her efforts and leadership that Grambling State University hosted the first NRPA National Workshop to be convened on a historically Black college campus. The NRPA forum, “Careers in Parks and Recreation: The Role of the Black College and University,” was held at Grambling College in Louisiana in May 1970. It provided the first opportunity to bring together black professionals and students to discuss the problems encountered in preparing recreation professionals and paraprofessionals for careers in the recreation and park field. During her tenure at Grambling College, Vaughn served as coordinator of the Recreation careers program. She was meticulous with her students, insisting on excellence and hands-on leadership experiences. She believed in and practiced the art and science of recreation leadership and community development, promoting recreation services for all people. An example of her leadership in community development is her report “Improving Recreation Programs and the Quality of Recreation Leadership in Louisiana,” published in 1970. In 1992, she became the first African American to be posthumously presented the National Distinguished Pioneer Award of the Roundtable Association, Inc.

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