To coincide with Juneteenth this month – which takes place on Friday 19 June and which aims to celebrate all those who have been freed from enslavement in the USA – I shine a light on some of the engaging black heritage tours which seek to honour black culture and history.
With ToursByLocals you can find a whole gamut of insightful experiences. The company is based around a ‘private tour marketplace’ that specializes in connecting travellers with local guides for unique, customizable experiences in 193+ countries.
CEO Paul Melhus launched ToursByLocals in 2008 with the aim of creating a simple system to connect travellers with independent local guides around the world. Through the pandemic he further adapted the offering by focusing on private tours with social distancing and also offering virtual experiences.
He comments: “Our core values include immersing travellers in a destination’s local culture for authentic experiences, partnering with and empowering local guides in destinations around the globe, and offering a transparent and sustainable business model that encourages regenerative travel.”
“As society evolves, our offerings naturally evolve as well,” Paul continues. “Our guides are always listening to current conversations and then creating new tours to meet that need. This is likely why we have seen an uptick in black history-focused tours this past year specifically.”
Tours on offer include a Black History Tour in Washington, D.C., which focuses on the history of African Americans. Highlights include Frederick Douglass’ home, Howard University and The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.
In Birmingham, Alabama, the Alabama Civil Rights Experience takes you on an immersive historical tour of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s. Key moments include a visit to the 16th Street Baptist Church as well as to the spot where Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat (triggering the 1955 Bus Boycott).
In Savannah, Georgia, the Step on Savannah African American Tour delves into the ‘lesser-known’ history of the city’s colonization, including a tour of the barracoons (brick structures where slaves were held before auction).
In Montgomery, Alabama visitors can explore some of the most important sites that defined the Civil Rights Movement and which helped change the fabric of American life with tour options including a Driving Tour or a 3 Day Foot Solider Sacred Grounds Tour.
While many know Miami, Florida for its Latin heritage, visitors can also explore the black history that runs through the veins of the city with a Melanin Miami: 5 Hour Private Driving Tour with stops at several historically black neighbourhoods, the stomping grounds of greats like Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Malcolm X, as well as some of the best soul food spots in the ‘305’.
In Chicago, Illinois, on the Black History in the 2nd City tour, you can explore the social, artistic, business, and political past of the African American experience from DuSable’s House to the White House.
Louisville Tourism is also focusing on black heritage and has recently unveiled its Black Heritage Tour Collection with new programming slated for this summer that will celebrate the impact of the African American contribution to Louisville’s history, heritage and culture.
The Unfiltered Truth Collection will allow visitors to journey back in time, look towards the future and explore the stories of some extraordinary people that built the Louisville experience as we know it today. These new offerings will highlight the African American influence in Kentucky with a special focus within the bourbon and horse racing industries and Muhammad Ali Tourism.
Seven local attractions will share new Black heritage experiences and historical perspectives that many may have not heard of before. Included is the Ideal Bartender Experience at Evan Williams, which celebrates the black bartender who made the Old Fashioned famous in the first cocktail book authored in 1917, and the Kentucky Derby Museum’s Black Heritage in Racing Tour about the African Americans that once headlined the thoroughbred racing scene.
The upcoming opening of Roots 101 African American Museum (due to open on 12 June) is an important milestone in the city. It has been dedicated as a ‘healing place’ for visitors to come and experience the journey of African Americans through art, music, artifacts, and education. The new museum is situated on Louisville’s popular Museum Row and will showcase both local and national artifacts.
Lastly, in November, the Breonna Taylor Memorial – the heart of Jefferson Square Park for more than 160 days – was moved to its permanent home: protestors marched piece by piece of Taylor’s memorial to the new museum on Main Street.
Leading travel company Trafalgar, meanwhile, has launched a new itinerary – Journey Along the Civil Rights Trail – which brings to life the struggles and triumphs, music and milestones, legends and heroes of the US Civil Rights Movement.
The itinerary highlights the events and acknowledges the people involved in the ongoing fight for equality and freedom, while enjoying the magic, music and hospitality that is synonymous with America’s Southern states.
The trip focuses on the pioneers of the period, particularly Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, starting in Memphis where he was assassinated, and ending in Atlanta, city of his birth. Along the way, guests will connect with local communities and meet a number of prominent activists and speakers who share their personal stories of growing up as African Americans in the segregated South.
Across nine days, guests will visit key historical locations along The Mississippi Freedom Trail, including Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery, and the site just outside Greenwood, where the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till at Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market in 1955 is widely recognised as being a catalyst for the movement.
Other key sites that pay tribute to the trailblazers include the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery; The Historic Mason Temple in Memphis (where Dr. King delivered his famous last speech: “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”), the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum in Memphis; and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery.
Guests will take a moving walk across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the sight of the tragic “‘Bloody Sunday’ beatings of 7 March 1965. They will also enjoy a spinetingling performance by Alabama’s Carlton Reese Choir, with an insight into how the choir supported the work of Dr. King on his visits to the state, before dinner and a live jazz performance featuring the music of greats like Sun Ra and Erskine Hawkins.
Of course, no journey to the south is complete without soul, blues and Southern home-cooked dishes, so included is a signature ‘Be My Guest’ brunch of Southern favourites in the lovingly restored antebellum home of Sandy Taylor and her husband Harvey, and an exclusive, after-hours experience at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis.
Gavin Tollman, Global CEO of Trafalgar, says: “It’s impossible to walk in someone’s shoes, but I believe one of the best ways to broaden the mind, and gain compassion and understanding is through travel. We’re in a privileged position to help tell these stories through this itinerary which recognises the events and honours the people in these historic locations. It’s a journey of enlightenment, and one which I welcome our guests to join against the context of history and the backdrop of courageous characters, Southern hospitality, and of course, music.”
Credit: Source link