Traveling While Black: A NYC Exhibit On The Pleasure, Pain, And Pilgrimage
Photo Credit: Peter Griffith

Photo Credit: Peter Griffith

Traveling While Black: A NYC Exhibit On The Pleasure, Pain, And Pilgrimage

new york city
Nasha Smith
Nasha Smith Nov 24, 2021

Over the past decade, the Black travel experience has evolved to an engaged community where people of color help each other feel empowered when traveling while Black, by sharing advice and tips through social media platforms, blog posts, and detailed videos.

But not forgotten in the milieu of travel inspiration and bucket list conquests, are horrific memories of the Middle Passage and the enslaved Africans who were forcibly transported to the Americas.

Now the Black journey is being explored through Traveling While Black: A Century Of Pleasure, Pain, And Pilgrimage as part of festivities for The New York Public Library’s 125th anniversary and the Schomburg Center’s 95th.

Kevin Young, the director of the Schomburg Center, was also the curator for the exhibition that “examines a history of travel, from those who found themselves exiles within their own country down to the pilgrims and pleasure seekers of our time.”

This includes the Great Migration, one of the largest movements of human beings in history where Black people from the South and Caribbean moved up north and west for better economic opportunities, safety, and occasionally some adventure.

Wartime travel was typically the first time Black soldiers were exposed to other cultures outside the United States, often bringing some of these newfound influences back home. The exhibition also highlights pioneers in Black travel, like Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman and first Native American to hold a pilot license.

The Schomburg Center houses the world’s largest collection of Green Books, with one of its few missing volumes added last year. These guides, distributed nationally, helped Black travelers and their families stay safe by identifying segregated spaces where they might face discrimination, intimidation, and racist “sundown towns.”

Traveling While Black: Pleasure & Pain & Pilgrimage is open to everyone Mondays through Saturdays, from 10:30 AM until 4:30 PM. No reservation is needed.

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