Autographed publicity photo of Josephine Baker. Photo Credit: © New York Public Library Digital Collections.

United States – African Americans in Paris, France

Between the 1920s to 1960s, African American intellectuals such as Richard Wright, Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, and Langston Hughes traveled to Paris to escape the racism and segregation happening in the United States.

As a reflection of these travels, in his 1951 essay, I Choose Exile, author and poet Richard Wright asks, “Why have I decided to live beyond the shores of my native land? It is because I love freedom and I tell you frankly that there is more freedom in one square block of Paris than there is in the entire United States!”

These travel experiences made a significant impact on the perception of travel as a form of transformation for African Americans.