The online travel portal Black & Abroad, which has generated travel ideas for the Black community since 2015, has recently launched a new tool that celebrates Black Americans’ contributions in just about every way imaginable. If you’re a contextual learner, this interactive map of the U.S. also a great way to immerse yourself in Black history, business and culture.
The Black Elevation Map offers suggestions on how to learn more about Black culture to the next U.S. city that may be in your travel plans. Considering the timing of Black History Month, this visualization tool offers a great time suck for those interested in learning more about how Black enterprise and culture have shaped America. For Black Americans, they have a new travel resource that speaks to and with them, not at them.
“We have always seen an opportunity to elevate the community through world exploration,” said Kent Johnson, the chief strategy officer and a co-founder of Black & Abroad. “The Black Elevation Map is a way for us to share the brand’s positive view from a domestic travel standpoint, while encouraging exploration across our diverse community. We’ll always have miles to go. We hope this map helps with the journey.”
Currently there are about 30,000 points of interest to explore within this map.
Some of the suggestions for touring Black communities speak to any traveler’s curiosity of what’s in store for a visit, as in where to view great public art, points of interest where American history was shaped, where to eat and what places witnessed some of the greatest musical moments in U.S. cultural history were made.
But the team behind the Black Elevation Map has gone far deeper to share Black Americans’ stories. Where were the restaurants and businesses that had a role in sparking the Civil Rights movement? Where are the leading Black-owned and -run architecture firms? What safe spaces exist where Black Americans can experience the great outdoors? The directory is exhaustive, and the map covers U.S. cities both large and small. As of press time, this mapping tool also includes 12 specific city guides. Video and audio clips also do a fine job in keeping anyone's attention.
Other points of interest include Black-owned vineyards as well as suggestions where to experience Black poetry. And, for those who are on the road and are seeking out Black-owned businesses, users can type in the name of a city and access a quick directory.
Bottom line, this isn’t your parents’ Fodor’s or AAA travel guide.
“From redlining to modern urban planning, you don’t have to look far to see ways in which maps have been used to marginalize, divide and oppress communities around the world,” Eric Martin, Black & Abroad’s co-founder and chief creative officer, said in a public statement. “We wanted to help Black travelers see the country in a way that prioritizes and celebrates the contributions of folks who look like us – and facilitates travel choices that deepen engagement within our community.”
As for redefining the very meaning of an elevation map, Martin added, “Repurposing a traditional elevation map is a way for us to weave joy and uplift into the story, the experience, and our interpretation of the data.”
For travelers interested in planning trips beyond the U.S., Black & Abroad also provides curated travel itineraries and offers a wealth of information for those seeking a different experience once they step off the plane and through customs and immigration.
Image credit: William Rouse via Unsplash
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.