Do an Instagram search for the term “black travelers.”
Chances are, you’ll find a number of photos of young African Americans exploring the world. From Dubai to Santorini, Nice to Marrakech, and of course, from sea to shining sea, the visibility of black travel is growing.
But rewind to just a couple of years ago and do that same Instagram search. According to Zim Ugochukwu, founder of the digital platform Travel Noire, you probably would have only been able to find just a handful. “I would stay on Instagram for about an hour searching through different hashtags to find one picture of somebody who looked like me traveling,” she said.
So she created online spaces for young African Americans to share their travel experiences via Instagram, Facebook and more.
Black Americans have a tumultuous history with travel just within the United States. Before the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, blacks were relegated to shoddy public transportation, denied lodging in hotels, and intimidated into staying put.
Author and historian Calvin Alexander Ramsey described to TIME what it was like for black travelers during the pre-Civil Rights era: “It was pretty scary, especially by car, and dangerous. There were some towns called sundown towns, that if you were traveling through there after sundown, you could get into a lot of trouble. You could get arrested, you could get bodily-harmed, or you could possibly even get killed.”