In honor of Black History Month, I felt it important to highlight those who made a difference for Black travelers today. Travel is a privilege that hasn’t been accessible or easy for everyone, but these courageous figures fought and worked hard to overcome the struggles of racism and inequality.
At just 19 years old, Bessie became the first black woman to travel cross country through the United States on a motorcycle. This trip was in 1930, a time before the civil rights movement and WWII. She later completed this trip 8 more times while serving the U.S. Army as a civilian courier during the war, a job left to only a few. Despite the harsh racism she endured, she bravely kept moving forward and lead an exciting life as motorcyclist, leaving a legacy for other black and female riders to follow.
Victor Hugo Greene
Most famously known as the author of “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, a travel guide for African American travelers published from 1936-1966. This was during the Jim Crow era when Black people had to worry about what hotels, restaurants, and towns they would be accepted at. Being a Harlem native, Green’s first edition only included information for the New York Metropolitan area. After gaining popularity, later editions went on to include other regions of the United States.
Perry Young Jr.
After graduating high school, Young decided to become a pilot and worked hard to achieve his dream, earning his private pilot license just 2 years later. After another 3 years of fighting racial discrimination and trying to break into the industry, the U.S. Army offered Young a job as a flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen. Despite being recognized for leading the squadron to greatness, he still struggled to find work as a pilot after the war ended in 1944. Finally, in 1956, he was hired by New York Airways, becoming the first Black pilot for a U.S. commercial airline.