The founders of the travel company Black & Abroad have launched The Black Elevation Map – a new resource for travelers that shows where Black people are thriving.
A few years after their powerful and awarding winning “Go Back To Africa” campaign that takes the derogatory phrase to show the beauty of African countries, Eric Martin and Kent Johnson have launched a tool to celebrate the contributions of Black people.
“When the pandemic started, we were constantly seeing news around how Black businesses were impacted the most by the economic downturns,” Johnson told Travel Noire. “Eric and I came together and tried to figure out a way that we could help, through our platforms, to support those businesses that needed an additional push, some marketing, and opportunity for discovery.”
Their solution was a data-driven resource that includes Black population data, historical markers, Black-owned businesses, and social media activity that’s visualized on digital typography as points of interest for travelers with the help of the creative-data advertising agency Performance Art. The way it works is when you’re searching on the map, the elevation rises. The greater the density of the data, the higher the elevation.
“This map sheds light on places that need boosting and support,” Martin added. “We’re hoping that with this map, not only are people inspired but actually put forward a course of action to support these organizations and visit these historical landmarks. We have so much rich history and culture here.”
Through the map, travelers have the opportunity to create their own city guides with more than 30,000 businesses and historical landmarks they have already identified – and this number continues to grow.
And if you don’t know where to start, the Black Elevation Map has something for everyone as it includes 12 curated city guides and 10 national guides. For starters, there’s a guide for Black-owned wineries identified as Melanin Vines on the map; notable start-up companies listed as Black Silicon Valley, and Black-owned restaurants that fueled The Civil Rights Movement with the Civil Bites guide. The map even details buildings that were designed by Black architects through the Sketching Skylines guide and so much more!
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t be wary of places where you don’t see a high elevation on the map.
“You have to take into consideration the total population density of certain areas because if you don’t have a large Black population of Black people, it’s hard to have a large concentration of Black businesses. There are a lot of states where it may look like there is less, especially in the Midwest. You have to toggle over to the total population density icon at the bottom to see if fewer Black businesses are the result of the place being less populated with Black people,” says Martin.
The map is currently for domestic use across the United States, but Martin and Johnson hope to expand the resource internationally.
As their list of Black-owned excellence continues to grow, they’re asking more Black-owned businesses to self-identify on Yelp or Google where a majority of data is pulled to be represented on the map, which is updated daily.
You can take a sneak peek at what’s in store with The Elevation Map through a 60-second film called “A Hymn Away From Home.”
Find more information and get started with your guide to celebrating Black businesses and culture by clicking here.