February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the history and culture of people of African descent along with their contributions to society.
As an African American, I find it is often filled with regurgitated information on particular parts of our history seen through very narrow lenses that are usually defined by non-black people. There is a cap on when our stories often begin, only giving narratives of weary slaves and nothing of our lives either before or beyond America.
Despite what some textbooks may say, I know my history is not just black history or American history, but world history. The African diaspora goes beyond the realm of the United States of America, and many of us did not come to America willingly when we were taken from our ancestral homes.
You can go to numerous countries around the world and learn how the African slaves turned their sorrow into a positive cultural impact felt around the world. For those looking to explore black history outside of the United States, here are a few top destinations to visit where you can learn more.
Although it is considered illegal to collect data on ethnicity and race, numerous sources estimate that there are about 3 to 5 million people of African ancestry living in France.
The presence of African and Caribbean immigrants has had a tremendous impact throughout the country and holds a unique position in African American history. The next time you visit the romantic city, join Black Paris Tours for a rich cultural experience dedicated to learning about the wealth of black history in Paris, including walking in the same steps as James Baldwin in the days of the Harlem Renaissance. If you're looking for niche tours in black history, check out Walking the Spirit Tours for the Josephine Baker in Paris package and more.
Havana is the center of culture in Cuba, and within the city lives a beautiful connection to its African roots through dance, music, food, and more.
The lasting effects of slavery can be felt across the islands: Race relations are still strained at times, with most people having some West African ancestry in their bloodlines.
You can learn about the African roots in Havana through the Afro-Cuban Religion Tour with Urban Adventures to see how deep black culture is embedded into the Cuban way of life.
The beautiful city of Amsterdam is brimming with history, from the National WWII Monument to its famous canals. On top of its rich Dutch culture, it is home to a vibrant community of African immigrants that dates back to the 16th century when trade companies would bring over captured slaves.
Since then, the black community continues to thrive in Amsterdam alongside its natives. Book a Black Heritage Tour to learn about the presence of enslaved African and indigenous people and their lasting impact on the city.
The gorgeous city of Cartagena is known for its colorful streets, picturesque beaches, and unique blend of African and Spanish cultures. Before you leave this city, you must take a trip to Palenque, a town created by runaway African slaves who turned it into a community with African roots that can still be seen today in the food, music, and overall way of life.
You can explore the town with Experience Real Cartagena, led by tour guide Alex Rocha, who will narrate your visit and explain the historical importance of the place.
The presence of African and Caribbean immigrants in London dates back to the reign of Henry VIII, when many Africans came over as servants and artists to look for opportunity. This growing presence continued when lines of trade opened between England and various African nations, including the slave trade.
Fast forward to today, when there are over 1 million residents who are considered Black British natives. You can learn more about the journey of African immigrants with Black History Walks, a company that offers tourist treks in London to explore African culture, museums, and art in contemporary Britain.