Black history is more than the Civil Rights Movement. It encompasses a broad range of cultural and historical events and has formed the social and financial foundations of some of America’s most prominent cities.
You can learn how Black history and culture have shaped America. The Black Cultural Heritage Tours Collection, offered by Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism, Inc. (CHAT), immerses travelers in authentic, local Black cultural heritage experiences.
Stephanie Jones, CEO of CHAT, is at the forefront of this endeavor, working toward establishing a “global Black-owned tour operator” with many local Black business partners looking to increase tourism. This business model is a first for most Black-owned businesses, and it’s proving to be a catalyst for Black cultural tourism.
Why Take A Black Cultural Heritage Tour?
CHAT developed the tours for “culturally curious” travelers looking for a transformative experience. The tours help these individuals learn all aspects of American history by connecting them to people and places that have played significant roles in the growth of Black culture and communities. As participants connect, they gain an understanding of and empathy for those they meet — and they learn to see the world through others’ eyes.
Visitors gain insight, but locals also benefit. Remembering and telling their stories helps community members preserve their culture. As Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the Smithsonian Institution, said at the opening of Washington D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016: “There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering.”
1. Charleston To Savannah — The Ultimate Gullah Geechee Experience
- Cost: $2,399
- Deposit: $250
- Duration: 5 days
- Group Size: 6 – 12
- 2023 Tour Dates: March 8, April 19, August 16, September 13
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, Coastal South Carolina
Visitors enjoy a private, pre-opening guided tour of the new International African American Museum, built on the former site of Gadsden’s Wharf — the point of disembarkation for more than 100,000 Africans sold into slavery.
Next, visitors take an interactive bus tour of Charleston’s Black heritage sites, including the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church. Later, they explore James Island and Johns Island with a local Gullah Geechee guide and enjoy a traditional Lowcountry lunch.
Participants visit the Pinpoint Heritage Museum, formerly a crab and oyster factory, now an education center. They learn about the Gullah Geechee culture from residents who grew up in the tiny, close-knit community. A picnic lunch and Black history tour of Savannah follow the Pinpoint visit.
According to Jones, one of the highlights of the Gullah Goochee tour is the story of “sweet grass weaving, told by ‘Miss Lucille,’ a third-generation descendant of Gulla Goochee slaves.” Another highlight on St. Helena Island is a storyteller who describes the experience of enslaved Africans brought to South Carolina. Music aids the sharing of this poignant story.
2. South Florida Tour
- Cost: $2,699
- Deposit: $250
- Duration: 6 days
- Group Size: 6 – 15
- 2023 Tour Dates: June 23, November 17
The beaches are warm and wonderful, but there is more to South Florida than surf and turf. Visitors gain an understanding of Black cultural heritage as they explore the great variety of cultures in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Key West. In addition, there are many opportunities to talk to locals as they explore South Florida’s Black cultural heritage through food, music, art, dance, and storytelling.
Inspiring, interactive bus tours take visitors through heritage neighborhoods. Ms. Jones notes that the Little Haiti visit is one of the most inspiring experiences, as “visitors engage with local artists, who tell how their drumming and dancing styles have derived from Haitian culture.”
3. Sarasota To Amelia Island — The Unchartered And Unfiltered Black Florida Experience
- Cost: $2,999
- Deposit: $250
- Duration: 8 days
- Group size: 8-12
- 2023 Tour Dates: October 23, November 6
This journey through Central and North Florida takes visitors through historical sites and heritage neighborhoods in St. Augustine, Mims, Orlando, Sarasota, and Amelia Island. Visitors learn about Black civil rights activities, jazz heritage, and little-known places and people who have contributed to American history.
According to Jones, one history-filled (but little-known) stop on the tour is Eatonville, just outside of Orlando. She explained that Eatonville, incorporated in 1887, is “the first Black incorporated town in the U.S.” She said another highlight of the tour is the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Art, where visitors learn about this world-renowned writer and anthropologist who often depicted African American life in the South. Finally, Jones highlighted the tour’s visits to beaches with a history of Black “wade-ins,” held on Sundays in Sarasota and other beachfront towns.
4. The North Carolina Cultural Heritage And Culinary Experience
- Cost: $2,999
- Deposit: $200
- Duration: 6 days
- Group Size: 8-12
- 2023 Tour Dates: August 29, October 10, December 5
Visitors are steeped in Black culture and food as they visit Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Durham. They learn how Charlotte’s Black community has contributed to the soul and character of Queen City.
In the twin city of Winston-Salem, visitors explore more than 250 years of deeply-rooted African American history as they visit heritage neighborhoods, exciting attractions, world-class art galleries, and performance venues. In Durham, visitors meet and talk with community members and explore the city’s Black heritage, including its thriving Black businesses and delicious cuisine.
Jones says the Charlotte tour is “focused on contemporary culture, especially the ‘magnificent restaurants’ run by young Black Millenials.” She describes the Winston-Salem tour, where highlights include “a Black tour operator who converted a fire truck into a tour vehicle.”
Tour dates and booking information for all tours can be found here.
Interested in learning about Black history and culture? Read these TravelAwaits articles: