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Traveling art exhibit recognizes St. Louis founder of Black People Who Hike

Debbie Njai on a hike
Michael Thomas
Debbie Njai, the St. Louis-based founder and president of Black People Who Hike, is being honored with a portrait that's part of a national art exhibition by Robert Shetterly called "Americans Who Tell the Truth."

Debbie Njai founded Black People Who Hike in 2019 to promote inclusivity in outdoor spaces. What started as a therapeutic outlet for herself has now become a global movement to make nature a place where all people feel welcome.

“When it really hit home for me — when I realized this was something bigger than me [and] something that the Black community needed — was when I had stumbled across forest bathing and really understanding what the outdoors can do to someone and how it can really benefit.”

Njai’s work as a St. Louis-based environmental activist and wellness advocate will be recognized in a traveling art exhibition coming to St. Louis on Friday: “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” It features the work of Robert Shetterly, who has spent the past 20 years painting portraits of Americans who are focused on improving their communities. The exhibition is put on by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Shetterly and Njai joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the healing aspects of nature and the ways art can be used as a vehicle for inspiration and education. Listen to the conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Podcast by clicking the play button below.

Debbie Njai and Robert Shetterly join "St. Louis on the Air"

Related Events
What: "Americans Who Tell The Truth," presented by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment
When: Grand gallery opening from 6-9 p.m. on Aug. 4, open through Aug. 24 on Wed.-Fri. from 12-6 p.m.
Where: The Gallery STL (17081 N. Outer 40 Road Suite 210, St. Louis, MO 63005)

What: A screening of "Truth Tellers," a documentary focused on Robert Shetterly's work
When: Aug. 15
Where: The Gallery STL (17081 N. Outer 40 Road Suite 210, St. Louis, MO 63005)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production intern. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.