Anita Jeanna Francois, museum curator, archaeologist, founder & CEO of Black Travel Summit. Born and raised in London, UK to a Seychellois mother and a Haitian father, Anita has had an affinity for traveling, history, and cultures from a young age.
Having visited just under 30 countries, many of them several times, Anita made it her goal to encourage Black diaspora travelers to travel outside of their comfort zones. She advocates educating the public on the global Black diaspora while also basing many of her solo exhibitions on the expansion of this knowledge.
“As a person of Haitian descent (with some Cuban ancestry), it is difficult to find a place where I fit in the Western hemisphere. Many people do not consider Haitians Latinx, since the western part of Hispaniola was taken over by the French almost two centuries after the discovery of the island by Columbus. Our histories however are intertwined. Not only do we share roots with the people of Dominica Republic, but our nation helped to liberate slaves in several Latin American countries. Latinx to me isa recognition of the uniqueness of Latin-American cultures and a symbol of perseverance.”
Anita founded the Black Travel Summit with the mission to create a safe space for Black travel professionals to connect, collaborate, and foster growth within their professions. To-date, the Black Travel Summit has organized 14 events welcoming over 80 speakers, partners, and sponsors, and has hosted over 6,000attendees.
In the travel industry Latinx people are almost non-existent, and where it exists, it is very subtle.
“Latinx folks can literally look like anyone, so it is not as easy as saying oh look, aBlack person in Thailand. It is much deeper and complex and because there is no one look, Latinx people are harder to tell apart and easier to not notice.”
A Latinx hero she admires is Sammy Davis Jr. "Mr. ShowBusiness,” fondly called himself "the only Black, Puerto Rican, one-eyed, Jewish entertainer in the world." Davis had a 60-year-long-career where he starred in seven Broadway shows, appeared in 23 films including Ocean’s Eleven, regularly landed television roles and recorded dozens of albums and was a member of the Rat Pack. Although he died of throat cancer at the age of 64, his memory lives on as one of the greatest pop-culture icons of the 20th century. Davis also heavily contributed to the Civil rights movement.
“With our dedication and hard work, we will rise and leave a more equitable world to live in for our future generations. I hope that one day, organizations like theBlack Travel Summit becomes, only, a place to celebrate Black travel culture and not to highlight what no one is thinking about.”