Years ago the late, great James Baldwin, the ultimate black expat, said this of his travels: "I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself." He wasn't being glib. Travel is the great expander, obliterating borders, changing perceptions, both of the outside world — and of the self.
You don't, of course, have to live in a garret in Paris or make a pilgrimage to Senegal's Gorée Island in order to encounter yourself. Some of the most eye-opening travel can happen within these 50 states. There are untapped resources rich in black history and culture right here, both known and unknown treasures that will make you rethink your heritage, your history, yourself.
A while ago, we asked for your feedback on the must-see spots for black travelers exploring the U.S. You'll find some of those spots highlighted over the next few months, as well as a few of our favorites. We're calling it the Black Bucket List, The Root's guide to the can't-miss spots around the nation, from the Gullah-Geechee enclaves in South Carolina to stops along the Underground Railroad to the colonial stomping grounds of black New Yorkers.
We invite you to come along with us. Read, learn — and then start packing. The first stop on our Black Bucket List tour: Oklahoma. Browse some historical images of black Oklahoma in this photo gallery. Second stop? Head to New York for a quick stop in Bed-Stuy. Then watch our video on Weeksville, a self-sufficient black community of the 1830s. And finally, browse through photos of old New York.
Teresa Wiltz is The Root's senior editor.