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Industry Briefs


Attorney Thomas Blanton of Blanton & Associates, welcomes the commission to Washington, DC on behalf of local residents.

The February meeting of the newly appointed 400 YEARS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY COMMISSION was an outstanding demonstration of traveling with a purpose in the African-American Community.  This 15-member commission established by Congress on January 8, 2018, is charged to facilitate the commemoration and to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States, and the contributions of African-Americans in this country. Additionally, the Commission is mandated to encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, economic, and other organizations throughout the United States to organize and participate in anniversary activities to expand understanding and appreciation of the significance of the arrival of Africans in the United States; and the contributions of African-Americans.

With recommendations from governors, members of congress, civil rights and historical organizations, and the Smithsonian Institution, commission appointments were made by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Commission members are appointed  to serve for the life of the commission, through July 1, 2020.

Included among the list of distinguished appointees to the 400 Year Commission are: Dr. Joseph L Green Jr., chairman, Mr. Terry E. Brown, Superintendent, Fort Monroe National Monument, National Park Service, Virginia, and Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Washington, DC

            Terry Brown                   Dr. Lonnie Bunch         Dr. Joseph L. Green Jr.

The 400-year commemoration comes at a time when the history and culture of people of African descent is strongly on the radar screen of the world community. As the audience of historians, scholars, hospitality professionals, artists, and others gathered for this event looked on, a proclamation was presented from the World Conference Of Mayors And Historic Black Towns And Settlement Alliance, proclaiming that 400 Years of African American History be celebrated throughout the World.    

Dr. Dennis Rogers displaying WCOM Proclamation

With the film The Black Panther being recognized as one of the top grossing films in cinema history, and the popularity of the award-winning Green Book movie, recent polls and surveys confirm the most pronounced interest in African-American culture since 1977, when Alex Haley's classic "Roots," and the T.V. mini series it spawned, created a wave of interest in African-American history and all things related, i.e. music, food, traditions, etc. Even the recent Royal marriage ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, with its tasteful infusions of African-American culture captivated the attention of television viewers around the globe.

According to Black Meetings & Tourism publishers, Gloria and Solomon Herbert, the work of this commission, promoting cultural activities and events, will undoubtedly increase Travel and Tourism among domestic travelers  as well as inbound visitors.

Laura Mandala of Mandala Research, producers of the 2018 African American Travel STUDY,(available at ) says "There is a universal draw of the African-American experience." She added, "among domestic and international travelers, the African-American story in this country is one that resonates with cultural travelers of all types; the general market traveler, the foreign visitor, and the younger as well as more seasoned travelers, because the story of African-Americans is the story of America. African-Americans have contributed to the evolution of almost every facet of U.S. culture - the arts, literature, academics and social change movements."

The 2019 400-year commemoration provides a major opportunity to promote travel; encouraging U.S travelers to learn more about African-American history and culture, while exposing travelers worldwide, to the enormous cultural impact that people of African descent have made in this country. This further positions the African Market in its prominent role of helping to revitalize the overall Travel Industry,  contributing to the creation of jobs and stimulating the nation's economy.