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The five-minute video titled 1944 features a fictional letter — inspired by what a Tuskegee Airman could have said to his young child — read aloud over footage from various TN Experiences trips. The letter remarks on the difficulty of becoming one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators in the U.S., during the segregated Jim Crow era.
1944 draws a correlation between the Tuskegee Airmen, who broke the color barrier in their field during WWII and traveled internationally during their military service, and the contemporary Black Travel Movement, in which black millennials disprove the stereotype that black people don’t travel, or perhaps only travel infrequently to Miami or Las Vegas.
The video’s narrator says, “I saw things I never knew existed and I heard beautiful languages that inspired me… traveling the world is what kept me going.” The video concludes by saying, “You are your ancestors’ wildest dreams. Honor that legacy by going farther than those before you… you belong anywhere. You belong everywhere.”
This film came out in a timely fashion, both during Black History Month and an unprecedented national conversation about who’s free to travel internationally in the wake of President Trump’s travel ban, which targeted seven Muslim-majority countries. About the film’s broader purpose, Travel Noire CEO Zim Ugochukwu said, “We should never forget who we’ve always wanted to be. And that we stand on the shoulders of giants.”
Travel marketing isn’t just getting more sophisticated — in the Trump era, it’s getting political, and that may be the new normal. Airbnb ran a Super Bowl ad last week calling for multicultural acceptance. Airbnb’s CEO came out publicly against Trump’s travel ban, in addition to the CEOs of Expedia, TripAdvisor, and many others. Notable black-run travel companies including Black & Abroad and Innclusive also issued statements of concern about the ban. In the non-political arena, last year NBTC Holland Marketing released a 17-minute film that relied on storytelling to inspire potential visitors.
Many leaders in the Black Travel Movement excel at producing sexy, powerful photos for Instagram, which strengthens their brands and attracts new followers. Now, in the age of Black Lives Matter, which is already five years old, the next level of digital marketing may include political activism and historical awareness on top of compelling storytelling.