7 Places Every Black Parent Should Visit at Least Once in Their Lifetime

From the Great Pyramids of Giza to HBCUs across the country, here's a guide to seven places that should be on every Black family's bucket list.

Tourists and camel drivers walking by the pyramids
Photo: Getty Images

The history of Black culture is complicated around the world. Generations have gone by since our ancestors were taken from Africa and to other parts of the world as enslaved people. But their descendants continue to live far from their roots in foreign lands. I understand this vividly as a first-generation African American.

My mother is from Mombasa, Kenya, and came to the United States for college. When my brother and I were 12 and 10 years old, my mother sent us to live in Kenya for two years—she wanted us to connect with our heritage and know what it meant to be African.

We didn't appreciate the experience then. As an adult, I see the incredible value my mother brought into our lives by sending us to live in Africa.

I've taken a trip to Africa every year as an adult to learn about Black culture and connect with my heritage. I've spent time in Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

I've cried out every ounce of liquid in my body as I experienced the heavier parts of our history. Traveling to places of Black historical significance has helped me appreciate where I've come from and shaped my parenting as a Black father of three.

Here are seven places every Black parent should visit at least once. These pilgrimages are important for all of us.

Great Pyramids of Giza

Giza, Egypt

There's a land in Northern Africa called Kemet, an ancient word for Egypt that translates to "black land or land of the Blacks." In Giza, Egypt, you'll find the Great Pyramids. Seeing the Great Pyramids is a life-changing experience—it is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The pyramids hold significance in Black culture and are a great place to teach children about the Egyptians' contribution to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, astrology, language, and so much more.

I've visited the Great Pyramids and witnessed their magnitude firsthand. It's a trip that offers an entertaining and educational experience for Black parents.

Slave Castle in Elmina, Ghana
Getty Images

Door of No Return

Elmina, Ghana

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Elmina, Ghana is a former slave-trade outpost where millions of Africans were forced onto slave ships bound for the United States.

Millions from all over Africa passed through this outpost to live life as enslaved people in foreign lands. The outpost contained 150 "castles," which housed 1,000 inhabitants at any given time. The door they walked through before boarding the ships is called the Door of No Return.

"I refuse to call them castles, but it is quite an experience to be inside of these dungeons, walk the tunnel and through the Door of No Return," says Freddie Taylor, a history enthusiast, and CEO and founder of Urban Intellectuals. Taylor's company takes Black parents on historical trips.

He took a trip to the Door of No Return with his 86-year-old father; it was their first time in Africa. Taylor says, "You're never the same after that experience. Can't be."

Entrance to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned
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Robben Island

Cape Town, South Africa

Located off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa sits Robben Island. Starting in 1961, the South African government used the island as a jail for political prisoners and convicted criminals. The island is famous because Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for 18 years.

I've visited Robben Island and seen predominantly African prisoners' small cells and demanding lives. This is a must-add trip for Black parents. You can enjoy the beauty of Cape Town after taking your children to this significant Black history site.

Winston-Salem State University Drum Majors perform during the homecoming parade
Winston-Salem State University

Historical Black Colleges and Universities

United States

During segregation, a great majority of institutions served predominantly white students. But before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were some higher education institutions in the United States established to primarily serve the African-American community.

There are 107 HBCUs that have graduated civil rights and important Black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Vice President Kamala Harris, United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and more.

St. Louis mom NaToya Hudson has been taking her son to visit HBCUs for the last four years to learn their history and gain a head start on his college career.

"We would take a trip every year (pre-Covid) to a city with an HBCU for him to see what it's like and learn the history. 2020, we went to Atlanta, and he saw the three HBCUs there right before the city went on lockdown," Hudson says.

Places like Atlanta and Washington, D.C., are home to popular HBCUs like Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and Howard University. It's also great to consider visiting these schools during events like homecoming, or Battle of the Bands, an annual multi-college competition.

Regardless of the timing of a visit, there's most likely a Historical Black College or University within driving distance that would make for an educational trip.

Hundreds line up for 'open house' at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth home in Atlanta, Georgia
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Sweet Auburn Historic District

Atlanta, Georgia

The Sweet Auburn Historic District is a Black American neighborhood surrounding Auburn Avenue, east of downtown Atlanta. The name "Sweet Auburn" was used by John Wesley Dobbs, referring to the "richest Black street in the world." It has one of the largest concentrations of Black businesses in the U.S.

"The place that stands out the most to me is Sweet Auburn," says Black father David Yarde.

"While it's the home to Martin Luther King Jr., it's also home to blocks of history painted on the walls of the various streets and building plaques that humble you while taking in the history of where you're standing," he says. "My favorite is Apex Museum, which showed me a side of Black history that brought me to tears of both pain and hope. To know your history before slavery is a powerful thing."

Seneca Village sign in New York City
Michael Noble Jr. for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Seneca Village

New York, New York

This 19th-century settlement of primarily African American landowners is in Manhattan in New York City, within what became present-day Central Park.

Seneca Village was founded in 1825 by free Black Americans, the first such community in the city. The community had 225 residents, three churches, two schools, and three cemeteries. Other immigrants would later come to the city and live in Seneca Village, as well.

The community was demolished using eminent domain to create Central Park. There are signs throughout the park marking important locations within the former community.

Ed Dwight's 'The Gateway To Freedom' statue sits along the Detroit Riverwalk in Detroit, Michigan on October 13, 2017.
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Underground Railroad Passage

Detroit to Canada

On opposites of the Detroit River, pointing at each other, are statutes to commemorate a pivotal location in the Underground Railroad network that freed slaves in America.

Fifty-thousand people escaped slavery on the Underground Railroad and fled to Detroit, code name "Midnight," to cross into Canada. The line went to Windsor, Ontario because slavery had been abolished in Canada through the British Imperial Act of 1833.

This historical site offers parents an educational opportunity in Detroit and in Canada, with incredible scenery.

Parents need to know about Black history, heritage, and culture so that we can pass it down to our children. We must never forget to experience and understand our roots and heritage.

Add these seven places to your bucket list as a starting point.

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