The chance to learn about and appreciate different people, places, and things through travel can be life-changing. For those searching for inspiration, following in the footsteps of great thinkers who have made a lasting impression on history can be a powerful way to connect with the past. More importantly, traveling to these places that served as muse to some of the greatest Black visionaries of all time can also help gain insight into their struggles and triumphs.

Harlem, New York City – Langston Hughes

Harlem Tenement in Summer, 1935
Photo Credit: The New York Public Library

As a center for the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Harlem inspired Langston Hughes, one of the most renowned poets and authors of the time. It is easy to picture Hughes’s favorite jazz clubs, literary salons, and creative gathering spots as you stroll around Harlem. The Apollo Theater, where many legendary performers started, is a must-visit landmark in this cultural enclave.

Accra, Ghana – W.E.B. Du Bois

Accra, Greater Accra Region, Ghana
Photo Credit: Michael Quaynor

W.E.B. Du Bois, a towering intellectual and civil rights activist, was also a Pan-Africanist who found inspiration on the African continent. Du Bois spent the later years of his life in Accra, Ghana, where he became a Ghanaian citizen and is buried. Traveling to Accra and visiting the W.E.B. Du Bois Center and his gravesite is empowering. This experience offers a unique opportunity to learn about his deep commitment to the Pan-African movement. Moreover, it is a way to understand his advocacy for African independence.

Chicago, Illinois – Gwendolyn Brooks

Photo Credit: Joel Mott

The first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Gwendolyn Brooks, called Chicago her home for most of her life. Back then, Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, where she resided, was a thriving cultural center for Black artists and intellectuals. So, a visit to Gwendolyn Brooks Park and her former residence is a way to appreciate the environment that shaped her as a black visionary and her powerful poetry, including her iconic work, “We Real Cool.”

Paris, France – James Baldwin

Café de Flore
Photo Credit: Valentin Kremer

Renowned writer and social critic James Baldwin found solace and inspiration in Paris’s artistic and intellectual atmosphere. He lived in the city for many years and wrote some of his most influential works there. For travelers wanting to know more about Baldwin’s life and works, s visit to Paris is essential. This trip can include stops at significant locations in Baldwin’s life, such as the Café de Flore, where he often gathered with fellow writers and thinkers. Additionally, exploring the city’s rich literary history can help one better understand Baldwin’s perspective on race, identity, and society.

Dakar, Senegal – Leopold Sedar Senghor

Gorée, Sénégal
Photo Credit: Yannaty Kouyate

Leopold Sedar Senghor, the poet, philosopher, and the first President of Senegal played a pivotal role in promoting Negritude, a literary and cultural movement celebrating Black identity and African heritage. Dakar, the capital of Senegal, was one of the places where this black visionary drew inspiration for his poetry. Travelers can explore the cultural and historical significance of Dakar by visiting places like Gorée Island, which served as a symbol of the transatlantic slave trade, and the Maison de la Photographie, where Senghor’s legacy lives.