Usually we pick a destination, then plan our activities. Why not change it up and pick an activity to determine your next destination. Black history tours represent different portions of history and experience, depending on the location. Travel bridges the gap between cultures and cultivates a more meaningful way for us to connect with and relate to one another. Whether you’re looking to understand your ancestral roots or gain a deeper understanding of what life was like for Blacks historically, here are several recommendations from Martinique Lewis, a diversity in travel consultant who has been paving the way for Black travelers, near and far.
Walking the Spirit Tours (Paris)
Founded by Black Paris travel expert Julia Browne in 1994, Walking the Spirit Tours pioneered the genre of Black heritage tourism in Paris. Their signature walking tours of Black Paris will have you reliving the exciting Roaring 20s in what was the Black Montmartre community of Baker, Bricktop and Bechet and strolling through the Latin Quarter to discover the haunts and homes of the African-American intellectuals, artists, military and musicians. Discover Africa in Paris by exploring the vibrant La Goutte d’Or neighborhood and its everyday activities of open-air markets, cloth shops and dapper clothing shops, hair salons, cultural venues – all while learning its social and political past and present.
On a private, half day Spirit of Black Paris bus tour, journey past well-known sites and lesser-known corners, learning the rich Black history rarely told in guidebooks or traditional tours. You’ll learn of Sally Hemings on the Champs-Elysées, aviator Eugene Bullard at the Arc de Triomphe, WEB Dubois at Opera, 369th Harlem Infantry Regiment in Lower Montmartre, Bricktop and Langston Hughes in the shadow of the Moulin Rouge and many more.
Tours by Judy (New Orleans)
Led by a direct descendant of early civil rights pioneer George Geddes, Tours by Judy provide an authentic experience discovering the real New Orleans. From the French Quarter to the Garden District to the Cemeteries, owner Judy Geddes Bajoie relies on her family history and life experience to connect visitors to the past.
Grasp a deeper understanding of black history and the Comite` des Citoyens (Citizens’ Committee), who put forth a test case of civil disobedience to overturn segregation laws that had been enacted post Reconstruction across the South. Judy, the great, great, granddaughter of George Geddes, one of the Comite` des Citoyens provides personal insight on this Free People of Color tour. Also on offer are a New Orleans Civil Rights Movement tour as well as an obligatory Jazz tour.
Experience Real Cartagena (Colombia)
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Cartagena, you’ll instantly envision the quaint, historic old town that has horse drawn carriages ambling over cobblestones among the brightly colored buildings. Next time, connect with local Alex Rocha who provides a local’s perspective on one of Colombia’s most popular tourist towns with his company Experience Real Cartagena. Growing up in the city’s working class neighborhoods, Alex’s only dream was to learn English. With his dream realized, he’s proud to be the bridge connecting traveler’s to the real Cartagena.
Immerse yourself in the local culture and cuisine in the Real Cartagena tour and learn about natives of Cartagena and the heavy African influence. Visit traditional neighborhoods to understand the city from a geographic, cultural, social and economic point of view. On the Visit to Palenque tour, explore a town established by runaway slaves with African roots. Learn about the music, dance, culture, customs and beliefs that played a very important role in the path to freedom.
Black History Walks (London)
Although the name is misleading, Black History Walks also offers talks, films and lectures about Black history in London. Guides will take you on walking tours through hundreds of years of the African presence and contribution to London’s way of life. Discover secret alleyways and enormous buildings all connected to Africa and the Caribbean in ways in which the owners do not want you to know. Find out about Black loyalists and African revolutionaries. Uncover the submerged links between racism, trade, religion, slavery and politics which are still evident in the very streets and buildings of the oldest part of London.
MICHELLE ARELLANO MARTIN
**Featured photo of Khayriyyah Muhammad Smith, a philanthropic professional focused on gender equity.