Traveling This Summer? Be Inspired By These Traveling Cousins’ 1930s Adventure

black man sitting on a wall next to the beach
Briona Lamback
May 17, 2023

Roberta Thomas and Flaurience Sengstacke giddily packed their bags, ready to embark on their biggest adventure ever. They’d just graduated from the illustrious Fisk University, and their uncle Robert, the publisher of the Chicago Defender, gifted them the experience of a lifetime.

In 1931, the duo traversed Europe for nearly a year, experiencing it all, from seeing Josephine Baker perform in Paris to a winding train ride through the Italian countryside to listening to live music in London’s Hyde Park.  

Readers back home escaped to places they’d never been through the cousins’ words, who wrote about their travels in the Chicago Defender, and realized that traveling was something attainable for them, too.

The experience wasn’t all peaches and cream, though, because anti-Blackness exists in every corner of the world. “We don’t allow them to do that in Texas,” a white boy said to the cousins once while relaxing, living their best lives by the waterfront in Venice, Italy.

Today, both the media and travel industries are anti-Black. For years, Black travel communities have continued helping our people see new places, and many of our people are also writing travel narratives from around the world.

We have always been storytellers, and Thomas and Sengstacke are no different. Despite anti-Black narratives, many of us have been seeing the world and sharing incredible stories full of nuanced, unique perspectives. It’s a beautiful thing, and we should never stop exploring.

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