Black History Month: A Tribute to Black Travelers Past & Present

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As February comes to a close, we finish another Black History Month in the United States – a celebration focusing on the history and achievements of African Americans. International travel, though not widely focused as focused on Black history, has been an important part of the journeys of many Black civil rights leaders and intellectuals throughout the last century. Though it was often out of refuge from racism (and in some cases, also homophobia) in their home country, their experiences abroad made great impacts on their work.

For example, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to India in 1959 (four years before his “I have a Dream” speech) for five weeks to meet with government officials, university students, Mahatma Gandhi’s family and friends and others in an exploration of non-violent resistance and advocacy. Renowned American thinker and writer James Baldwin spent time living in Paris, France while working on several books. The U.S.’s first Black Rhodes Scholar and writer Alain Locke wrote during the intellectual and cultural movement called the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. He also spent time in Berlin, Germany, at various points in the 1910s in the 1920s during this city’s own cultural renaissance.

Throughout the rest of the 20th century, other Black travelers like Victor Hugo Green (author of The Green Book), Betty Reid Soskin (the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service), Sophia Danenberg (the first Black woman to climb Everest in 2006), William Pinkney (the first Black man to sail around the world in 1992), and many others continued to travel domestically and internationally, overcoming discrimination and other barriers, and inspiring generations to come.

In today’s globally-connected, social-media driven world, we get to watch travelers experience life abroad in real time. Harkening the phrase “Black History is Now,” we’d like to share just a few of our favorite contemporary Black travelers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so we encourage you to continue researching on your own!

Zim Flores

An American traveler and entrepreneur founded the site Travel Noire in 2013 as a place for resource and inspiration for Black travelers.


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A post shared by Zim Flores (@zimism)

Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström

Though she isn’t from the U.S., we believe she still deserves a huge shoutout! Swedish Author, Travel Photographer and Speaker Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström won the 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year and wrote the international bestselling book LAGOM: The Swedish Secret of Living Well. She works frequently for National Geographic, BBC, CNN, The New York Times, and others.


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A post shared by Lọlá ÁkínmádéÅkerström (@lolaakinmade)

Evita Robinson

Avid globetrotter Evita Robinson founded of Nomadness Travel Tribe in 2011. This online community is considered the “New Age, internationally based, digital Green Book.” Watch her TedTalk “Reclaiming the globe” here. “Black people do travel everywhere and we’re not a monolith,” she says in her talk.


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A post shared by Evita Turquoise Robinson (@evierobbie)

Jessica Nabongo

In 2019, Detroit native Jessica Nabongo became the known first Black Woman of African descent to visit all 195 countries in the world.


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A post shared by Jessica Nabongo 🇺🇬🇺🇸 (@thecatchmeifyoucan)

Further Reading, Resources, and Inspiration for Black travelers 

As a non-profit organization whose mission is “Travel for a Change,” we admire these travelers for their advocacy, visibility, and enthusiasm for building bridges. We hope during this Black History Month you take time to research inspiring black travelers past and present.

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