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Travel consultant and President of the Black Travel Alliance Martinique Lewis takes BOSSIP on an adventure through historic Green Book locations as well as modern black travel destinations. She stops in New York, Kansas City, and Denver for a variety of experiences.
The Black Travel Movement (BTM) is an emerging social movement that is revolutionizing the travel industry. By encouraging Black travelers to visit destinations not typically promoted to them, this movement seeks to address underrepresentation of Black people within tourism and encourage more Black travelers to visit places not typically popular with this demographic.
Traveling as a Black person can be challenging, particularly when looking for Black-owned businesses and spaces abroad. Lewis hopes to make it simpler for travelers of color to navigate the world by compiling an extensive directory of Black-owned establishments and places of interest around the world.
Inspired by Victor Hugo Green's Negro Motorist Green Book, which helped Black travelers navigate hostile places in Jim Crow South America, Martinique Lewis is creating her own version of this legendary concept with her ABC Travel Green Book: Connecting the African Diaspora Globally. She's taking this idea and expanding it to include Black-owned tours, restaurants and spaces across six continents.
It's no secret that racism remains a serious problem for Black people both here and abroad, so Martinique wants to ensure travelers stay safe by only patronizing Black-owned businesses. She even created an app for her Green Book so travelers can quickly access all relevant information.
She also encourages travelers to reach out to her if they would like to add a Black business or place of interest to the guidebook. Doing so allows her to update future editions with updated information about it.
The Green Book is one of the most influential books of its era. First published in 1936, it served as a guide for Black travelers to hotels, gas stations and other safe locations to visit during Jim Crow era and beyond. Even today, its invaluable resources remain relevant.
Lewis, who has spent two years creating her 'ABC Travel Green Book' guidebook, hopes it will motivate more Black people to travel both domestically and internationally. "It's essential for Black travelers to step outside their comfort zones - whether that means visiting a city that doesn't typically feature them or exploring countries without many Black-owned restaurants," Lewis told Insider.
She is also exploring ways to utilize her 'ABC Travel Green Book' to educate travelers on how to safely avoid traveling during a pandemic. In such an emergency, travelers are advised not to fly and instead opt for safer car trips. Furthermore, they should take precautions like self-quarantining upon arrival and wearing a mask in order to prevent cross-contamination.
In 1936, the Negro Motorist Green Book was published and Black Americans faced a variety of social obstacles while driving across America. Jim Crow laws limited Black people's rights in the South while white-owned businesses could turn away Black travelers for anything from food to accommodation.
Many African Americans experienced "sundown towns," where communities had laws prohibiting Blacks from staying after the sun went down or even sleeping in their homes. It was essential for Black people to have a guidebook like The Green Book to locate a safe place to stay in these situations.
Victor Hugo Green, a postman from Harlem, created the Green Book as an aid to Black travelers during Jim Crow-era segregation in America. To provide them with useful information while traveling across America, Green published it annually until 1966 - becoming a landmark publication during that era of segregation.
Over its 30-year existence, the Green Book became the most influential travel guide for Black people in America. It sought to eliminate racial discrimination from travel by listing restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other establishments willing to serve Black patrons.
In addition to providing African Americans with housing, the Green Book also helped them connect to others and find entertainment in cities it covered. We see examples of this throughout places like Idlewild, Michigan, and Alberta's Hotel in Springfield, Missouri.
At its inception, the Green Book only covered metropolitan New York. However, its success spurred Green to expand his list beyond New York to other cities and states; eventually encompassing every US state as well as several international destinations.
Martinique Lewis, granddaughter of Victor and Alma Green, talked about the history of The Green Book in her documentary. She explained why she decided to make this documentary: she wanted to explore how black people in the 1930s and 40s used this resource as they navigated racial tensions of that era.
Martinique Lewis has always loved to travel, from visiting exotic locales with her family to discovering their fascinating histories. However, she noticed a distinct lack of diversity within the travel industry - particularly when it came to Black travelers.
So, she set out to fill that void. She founded the Black Travel Alliance and works hard to make travel more inclusive. Additionally, she serves as creative lead for Nomadness Travel Tribe, a Facebook group connecting Black expats abroad. Additionally, she's an expert diversity in travel consultant and creator of her own 'Green Book' app.
This app is a modern update of Victor Hugo Green's iconic "Green Book," published in 1936 as an almanac of safe places for African Americans during Jim Crow. This guide helped Black people locate accommodations, restaurants and shops in cities where they could feel secure while traveling.
Though no longer in print, The Green Book Project is a digital version of its original publication that utilizes crowdsourced reviews to help Black people stay safe when traveling. It helps them locate inclusive businesses that value and respect diversity in all forms - an excellent solution for Black travelers who wish to travel without fear of discrimination; however, this isn't the only solution.
Lewis became passionate about diversity in the travel industry and launched Black Travel Alliance to address it. Since then, she's attended numerous industry conferences to meet with CEOs of companies and ask them how they're doing when it comes to diversity initiatives.
She also hosts the documentary series 'Black Travel Across America,' which highlights destinations popular for Black travelers both past and present. It can be found on Hulu and includes landmarks listed in Victor Hugo Green's book as well as more modern Black markers.
In the premiere episode, Lewis explores Kansas City landmarks such as Ruby Jean's Juicery and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. She also interviews local experts to gain more insight into these beloved places' histories.
At a time when racial prejudice, price gouging, and physical violence were widespread, safe travel for Black Americans was almost impossible. But Harlem-based postman Victor Hugo Green created the Negro Motorist Green Book: an annual guidebook listing hotels, restaurants, and service stations from Connecticut to California that catered to Black customers.
This iconic guidebook, published from 1936 to 1966, served as an indispensable resource for Black travelers throughout the years. Additionally, the Green Book helped locate Black-owned businesses such as safe havens and tourist destinations. On this week's episode of UPFRONT/Inside the Entertainment Industry, diversity in travel consultant Martinique Lewis shares insights into her new documentary Black Travel Across America.
Lewis is a traveling entrepreneur who turned her passion for history into an entrepreneurial enterprise. She's been recognized by Travel + Leisure and Travel Pulse, with both publications hailing her as "the most influential person in travel." Additionally, Lewis serves as president of the Black Travel Alliance - a nonprofit dedicated to fostering diversity and equity within tourism - for her work.
In her new documentary, she takes us on a coast-to-coast road trip to visit historically listed Green Book locations and contemporary Black travel destinations. Additionally, she visits Black-owned businesses that are fueling the modern Black travel movement.
Her visits include places such as New York City, Kansas City and Denver. Lewis also takes viewers to a barbershop that's been in operation for four decades - owned by Franklin and Maedella Stiger, her great-uncle and aunt.
She also speaks about her family's connection to Oakland, California - home of Black Panther activist Angela Davis. Additionally, she recounts her journey as an immigrant to becoming an award-winning diversity in travel consultant and founder of ABC Travel Green Book: a resource that links travelers with Black culture and Black-owned businesses around the world.
Travel influencers, it's time to stop being a "one-trick pony" and start sharing stories that don't get told. Martinique Lewis is here as an entrepreneur and diversity in travel consultant who wants you to be more than just another "buzz word." She's also an educator striving to make you a better ally as well.