These Black-owned tour companies showcase the best of their destinations.
United Street Tours
An art teacher and later a dean of students, Chakita Patterson wanted to bring Black History Month to life for her class. In lieu of more homework, she planned a Nashville walking tour. “I wanted to get my students out of the classroom and into the community to learn about Black history in their own backyard,” Patterson said.
She took her students through Music City to sites related to the Civil Rights Movement and knew she was onto something. After tinkering with the presentation, she knew United Street Tours was here to stay.
“We stop at places where history actually happened, like Woolworth’s, where sit-ins happened,” she said of the now notorious five-and-dime. There, in 1960, nonviolent protestors sought to desegregate Nashville lunch counters and were attacked by whites. But the protesters were the only ones jailed.
“My group from today didn’t realize how organized the movement was,” she said. “The students who participated in the sit-in movement had to go through training and practice before they got to participate.”
Guests appreciate the fuller view of history they gain.
“The thing that makes United Street Tours unique is we lift stories that were once buried and we raise them front and center in a country music town,” Patterson said.
Soul of DFW
On a Soul of DFW tour, participants will eat, taste and sample their way through Black history and culture unique to Texas with founder, food historian and author Deah Berry.
“I love to educate different communities about Black culture,” Berry said. “One of the ways I love to do that is with the bus tour, because it allows me to intermingle a lot of different disciplines. It brings everything to life.”
Berry has been in business since 2018, serving groups of 40-50. Each tour visits a variety of Black-owned restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Participants will enjoy two or three bites or sips at each one. They will also get the opportunity to learn at a few significant historic stops.
“There are a number of different homes used in the Civil Rights Movement that have been converted into museums,” Berry said. “Churches also have super interesting stories. There’s one called St. Paul’s United Methodist that has a twofold story. It was designed by the first African American architect in the state of Texas, and I get to give them the opportunity to speak to people who came from formerly enslaved histories.”
Berry hopes Soul of DFW bus tour participants will be fed not just physically but also mentally and emotionally at the conclusion of the tour.
Tours by NOLA
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a deeper well of Crescent City history than that shared by Robin and Harris Parson.
The married couple honed their skills as docents and archivists for the Louis Armstrong Foundation. When COVID shook everything up in tourism, the Parsons were forced to reconsider their paths as well. Tours by NOLA was born.
Walking tours tend to serve 18-28 people and cover multiple fascinating New Orleans destinations, including the Garden District, Treme, the French Quarter and nearby plantations.
“We’re oral historians,” Robin Parson said. “I love bringing them to the first African American newspaper, L’Union, on Conti Street. People are blown away when they learn it was here in New Orleans.”
Harris Parson tells about historical figures as if he knew them personally. Ask him about Henriette DeLille and the St. Louis Cathedral, and participants will soon gain an intimate knowledge of the pitfalls of the law, Black communities, the impact of the Catholic Church and the sheer will to survive.
“No matter where we go, each tour is a different story with a very common thread of indigenous and formerly enslaved people. We try to get everyone’s story, connect the dots and tell how they fit in this gumbo,” Harris Parson said.