Martinique Lewis is an international travel maven. She has turned her love of travel and craving for cultural history into a business, building a following among travel enthusiasts. National Geographic Television took notice and produced “Black Travel Across America,” a documentary currently airing on Hulu. Lewis has an ambitious goal at the top of her website.
“I have one mission, to change the face of tourism forever.”
The approach for this film was to go back to some of the cities listed in the “Negro Motorist Green Book.” Published annually from 1936 to 1966, this was a must-have guidebook used by Black families and businesspeople listing hotels, rooming houses, and restaurants where Black travelers were welcomed. Lewis and the leadership from National Geographic presented a screening of the documentary recently at Sixth and I in the Gallery Place/Chinatown area in D.C.
New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, and Denver, Colorado, are three cities where Lewis takes viewers. Though there is plenty of eating, the stops are more than checking out good restaurants. Lewis delves into the history of these locations. She talks to people who remember how Blacks used the Green Book.
“I’m thoroughly enthralled and entertained by what’s on the screen,” said William “Bill” Pinkney III, National Geographic producer, after the screening at Sixth & I. “It makes this much sweeter to get that level of education while you’re being entertained.”
One of the few places Blacks could stay in New York was the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. It was the place that hosted entertainers, politicians, and foreign leaders like Fidel Castro. Kansas City is the home of the Negro League Baseball Museum, which started in a one-room building, where players from the Negro League took turns paying the monthly rent for the space. The museum is now a sprawling, multi-room facility that properly honors pioneer Black baseball players. Denver, Co. is close to Lewis’ heart because that is where her grandparents were from. Bennie Hooper was Lewis’ great-uncle.
“He was a successful businessman and the unofficial mayor of the Five Points, a predominantly African American community in Denver,” Lewis said. “My great uncle was one of the many African Americans who quelled the myth that the wild west was entirely populated by a White population.”
Lewis’ international travel credentials have led her to become president of the Black Travel Alliance. She is also the creator of “The ABC Travel Greenbook,” regarded as the number one resource connecting travelers globally to the African Diaspora.
Since only three cities were featured in “Black Travel Across America,” there is room for this documentary to turn into a series. The blend of history with creating a new legacy of success is great viewing. The Sixth & I audience and the National Geographic team agreed.
To learn more about Lewis and her travel tips, visit her website at https://www.martysandiego.com to see a preview of “Black Travel Across America.”