Black travelers are exploring more than ever and a documentary is spotlighting the billion-dollar movement and Green Book locations.
Black Travel Across America is highlighting historically listed Green Book locations via its host, award-winning travel consultant, and President of the Black Travel Alliance, Martinique Lewis.
She interviews experts to give the locations historical context and shines a spotlight on hidden gems.
She also represents the Black Travel Movement that’s disrupting the travel industry by flipping the underrepresentation of Black people in the travel sphere and encouraging travel to locations usually not marketed to African-Americans.
Below the gifted globetrotter tells BOSSIP about Black Travel Across America and her journey from penning the ABC Travel Greenbook to hosting this exploratory documentary.
How did your start as a Black traveler lead you to where you are today?
So I’ve been a traveler since I can remember, but what happened was I started to notice all of these beautiful Black photos through Travel Noire. And this was, I don’t know, back in 2011, 2012. Travel Noire was one of the first people to show Black luxury travel. So you would see Black people in Cappadocia with the flying balloons in the back, or you would start to see Black people in the Maldives, or you would start to see Africa shown in such a great light like in Kenya, Lamu, Kenya or in South Africa. And this is the first time we’re seeing ourselves reflected, looking amazing, being absolutely fabulous, having the same type of money that white people have to spend, even though we’re never seeing these images on a larger scale.
So once I learned about Travel Noire, I’m thinking, “Well, I travel all the time.” And then I started to work with a company called Black Travel Journey, and that was in 2017. And Black Travel Journey was my first introduction to really be able to cultivate minds because I was running the social media and I was the director of partnerships. So not only was I being able to cultivate minds of new Black travelers who were coming, or Black travelers who had already been traveling, but now I can cultivate the minds of the industry to let the industry know Black people are out here, we’re traveling and here are the photos to prove it. But not only that, here are the comments that lets you know the reason why your destination is doing so well is because a Black person went there and they posted this photo and they got other Black people interested in going.
And so Black Travel Journey then led me on another journey where I created the ABC Travel Green Book and I pitched it and I won the New Voices competition, which a lot of people might know. But the New Voices campaign was a campaign put out to help Black entrepreneurs, and I won that competition. So then I started on my own journey and then that’s what led me to now Nomadness, where Evita Robinson, who is literally the mother of Black travel, she started the first Black travel group, she allowed me to use her platform to share Black travel history. And this was something that had never been done before. So every February I will go through all of these facts, 28 Days of Black Travel Facts, and this is where we’re talking about the Pullman Porters, we’re talking about Victor and Alma Green, we’re talking about Nicodemus, Kansas, we’re talking about Chicken Bone Beach.
And I’m letting all these people know this is our history, even though nobody has ever shared it. And people were like, “Wow, we never knew because nobody told us that there was a Black-owned airport in Columbia, Maryland. Nobody told us that there used to be this Black-owned airlines out of Atlanta, Georgia.” But I was telling people these facts. And so once she allowed me to do it, I then broke off into my own thing and continued those stories. So I’ve really been fortunate to not only build a name for myself in the Black travel space, but in the travel space in general because of the information and the passion I have for Black travel in general.
Absolutely, and I’m glad you brought up the ABC Travel Green Book. Congratulations on your success with that.
I think it’s so interesting that there’s this time with Black Travel Across America because you are visiting real-life Green Book locations in the US. Can you break down to our readers what that really means? What are the Green Book locations?
The Negro Motorist Green Book is a travel resource that was created for Black people from 1936 to 1966 by Victor and Alma Green. And the reason it was created was because Black people could not travel up and down Route 66 safely without knowing where to stop. They did not have the privilege of just pulling up into a Holiday Inn and saying, “Hey, I would like to buy a room for a night.” Because a lot of people were racist, they would be discriminated against. So either they would price gouge them, a white family would come in, they would charge them $30 a night, they would charge a Black family $330 a night, or they would completely try to run them off and literally try to harm them to a point where they could literally lose their life when driving the highways and byways.
So Victor Hugo Green gave us this amazing resource that allowed you to know where you could stop as a Black traveler, where there was a hotel that was Black owned where there was a guest house that was open for Black travelers, what service stations would service you if you were Black, where you can stop and get food. A lot of people don’t realize shoebox lunches come from the fact that we could not stop, we had to drive throughout the night. That’s why we had the fried chicken because fried chicken is either good, whether it’s hot or cold. So you have to have these things to help you when you were traveling to see your family from Tennessee and travel out to California. So Green Book locations where the places where African Americans could stop and be safe when they were traveling the highways.
Hit the flip for more from our Martinique Lewis interview!