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First of an occasional series

Airliner takes off art sunset.

© George Tsartsianidis | Dreamstime.com

A new wave of black men and women is poised to make its mark in the travel world. Starting today, in a new IBIT series I call MOVERS, you’ll be meeting them here.

The late comedic genius Richard Pryor once said, “Be happy for a Black man doing anything.” He was speaking of positive things, just so we’re clear.

It’s in that spirit that I’d like to introduce you to some of the men and women around the Black Diaspora who are making moves — and making a difference — in the world of travel.

Regular IBIT readers have already met Teresa, one of my sisters from another mother in Oakland, CA, one of many young Black Americans who are enjoying the great outdoors and trying to get more of “us” to come with them.

Teresa Baker

Teresa Baker

Specifically, she’s made it her mission to get more Black folks to visit our national parks. Earlier this year, entirely on her own, she organized the first annual African American National Parks Event, which was a great success.

Her latest project links the national parks with Black American history — the role of the famed Buffalo Soldiers in preserving and protecting national parks. She’s organizing a project to retrace the trail they built from the Presidio in San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, a distance of roughly 200 miles.

The Presidio was a longtime Army base and fortress in San Francisco. It’s now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the best urban recreations anywhere.

“I am planning to make this part of the African American national parks event for 2014 and 2015,” she tells IBIT. The National Park Service is but one of the organizations showing interest in this, as is Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco and Robert Hanna, the great-great grandson of naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir, whose activism preserved Yosemite as a national park. She’s also meeting with the office of California governor Jerry Brown.

It’s not just the national parks getting on board. The California state park system is taking part in next year’s AANPE, as is Colorado.

CONTACT: You can email Teresa Baker.

Ghana is one of the more popular tourism destinations in West Africa — but not all of it. There are whole worlds of beauty, culture and heritage waiting beyond the city limits of the capital, Accra, waiting to be visited, with people waiting to greet and interact with travelers

Ruddy Nartey

Ruddy Nartey

One of those regions in eastern Ghana is home to the Krobo people, world-famous for their skill at creating Krobo trade beads from bits of recycled glass.

But while the Krobo beads are well-known, the Krobo people themselves and the lands in which they live are not.

And that’s where Ruddy comes in. He wants to change that.

To that end, he’s organizing Linked Hearts Nature Tours out of Somanya, considered the capital of Krobo land, wishing to offer tours showcasing the natural beauty of the Krobo territory, as well as the warmth and friendliness of the Krobo people. He also has an organization called Linked Hearts Volunteers.

Ruddy is passionate about Ghana, about the Krobo and bringing the world closer to both. Expect to hear more from and about him.

CONTACT: You can email Ruddy Nartey

Speaking of Africa, a busy young brother on this side of the Atlantic Ocean is Derek Rouse, all about travel and especially about the Mother Continent.

Derek, who describes himself as a “Diaspora Diplomat,” started out by creating his own travel organization, the Ma’at International Travel Network. He currently has a membership drive going through October, which you can read all about on Facebook.

Derek Rouse, left, with the Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Minister of Gambian Tourism & Culture.

Derek Rouse, left, with the Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Minister of Gambian Tourism & Culture.

Here’s how he describes his network via FB:

“The main objectives of Ma’at International (are) to provide a platform for cultural and historical awareness through international traveling and education, as well as to create branding and advertising opportunities for our travelers, students, artists, entertainers, sponsors and venders. From this, we believe we will equip youth and adults with 21st Century skills and unite people by developing a global network of youth and adult entrepreneurs that will deliver outcomes centered on economic development, alternative education and promoting positive change and cultural understanding here and abroad.

“Our mission is to help eliminate the “8 block radius” mindset of “the ghetto/el barrio” that restricts their “consciousness, courage, commitment, consistency, and creativity” (as stated by Dr. Umar Abdullah-Johnson, Nationally Certified School Psychologist), by re-defining the term and meaning of the words “Black” and “African-American.”

He’s now working on forming a chapter of the Africa Travel Association in Philadelphia, as well as student chapters on two Philadelphia universities, Temple and Drexel. He’s also putting tours together — one to the International Roots Festival in the Gambia next May 9-17, and a Moorish Heritage tour to Spain and Morocco with two noted African-American scholars, Runoko Rashidi and Kaba Kameme (also known as Booker T. Coleman).

Trust me, this is only the beginning for the Diaspora Diplomat.

CONTACT: You can email Derek Rouse

Do you know of Black Americans flying under the radar in the world of travel whom you believe qualify as MOVERS? Send a shout to IBIT using the form below!

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