African Americans have had a complicated relationship to international travel. The trauma and violence of the middle passage and slave trade forced black people into an international journey against their will, while the subsequent legal and extralegal mechanisms instituted by those committed to black enslavement and subjugation limited their ability to move freely from one place to another. Promises of foreign destinations as an escape from segregation and racial discrimination collided with the realities of the stigma that blackness carries around the globe.
The early 21st century witnessed two important and seemingly unrelated phenomenon: The Movement for Black Lives and “The New Black Travel Movement.” Since 2013, the market share of African Americans in the international travel market has grown astronomically. This lecture demonstrates that these movement are not only related, but have much to teach us about the tensions among political activism, leisure culture, and the role of women in global freedom struggles.