Black Meetings and Tourism

January / February 2024

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30 B M & T ••• January/February 2024 ••• On July 4, 2026, something phenomenal will occur in our country and we are all positioned to be a significant part of it. On that day, the U.S.A. will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. the Semiquincentennial. Already the eyes of the world are strongly focused on this nation as the country prepares to celebrate this momentous occasion. Reports from international sources indicate online and other searches regard- ing America's history are at an all-time high. Thoroughly intertwined in the making of this country is the story of African-Americans who were brought to this land involuntarily and who in innumerable ways have touched every aspect of its development. As a part of the increasing global attention being given to U.S. her- itage, there is also growing curiosity about the "Culture of Color." With Black Panther and Wakanda Forever recognized among the top gross- ing films in cinema history, and the popularity of award-winning movies such as One Night in Miami, Green Book and If Beale Street Could Talk, recent polls and surveys confirm the most pronounced interest in African-American culture since 1977, when Alex Haley's classic, the original "Roots," and the T.V. mini-series it spawned, created a wave of heightened awareness about African-American history and all things related (i.e. music, food, traditions, etc.). U.S. news headlines that continue to report events regarding police killings of unarmed African- Americans and the blatant efforts of elected government officials to alter or erase African-American his- tory have served to further raise questions regarding the roles and status of Blacks in this country. In a recent PBS interview, Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the New York Times number one best-selling novel, The Water Dancer, suggests that after over 400 years of misinformation, or no information, the world is eager to learn the truth about Africans in America. The U.S, Semiquincentennial provides the ideal platform for this truth to be known and the many sto- ries of HOPE and PROMISE that are tied into it, to be told. John Garrison Marks, author of Black Freedom in the Age of Slavery: Race, Status, and Identity in the Urban America, recently said in TIME magazine, "Beyond simply celebrating the Revolution, the Semiquincentennial commemoration is also an opportunity to share American history that fully explores the diverse people and complex events of our country's past." Telling the Stories of a Nation By Gloria & Solomon Herbert If there were an extraordinarily compelling moment in time for African-Americans to tell their own stories, more than ever, it is NOW

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