As an author and journalist, Nelson George is known for his ability to pluck a reader out of her familiar surroundings and place her in another time and place. Later in his life he evolved into an acclaimed filmmaker and producer who used the same techniques to transport viewers into a different culture; particularly black culture.
Now as the face of BlackAtlas.com, an interactive social networking site for black travelers, George couples his talent for storytelling with his love of travel, which has become an extension of his career covering music, film, and culture. As the author of 14 books including Hip-Hop America (Penguin; $15), the Brooklyn native will visit more than 30 different cities worldwide and film video blogs describing the historical, political, and cultural landscape of each location and its relevance to African Americans.
George, 52, is no stranger to traveling the U.S. As host of “Soul City,” a travel show for VH1 Soul, he visited Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and other cities infused with black culture. He caught the eye of executives at American Airlines, the sponsor of BlackAtlas, who, along with site marketers Burrell Communications Group (No. 4 on the BE 100s Advertising Agency list), pegged George for the job of travel expert-at-large. He has also traveled Europe extensively, and just recently traveled to India as the executive producer for Chris Rock’s new documentary “Good Hair.”
George took some time out from planning his itinerary to talk to BlackEnterprise.com about how he began traveling, what he’s found on his journeys and how BlackAtlas can play a paramount role in helping blacks learn about the lives of African Americans across the Diaspora.
BlackEnterprise.com: When was your first international trip?
Nelson George: My first international trip was to London for an interview with an artist in the 80s. As a New Yorker, I found London to be particularly user friendly. My first day there, I was everywhere, just like I would be if I was riding the subways of New York. In addition, England has always had a strong black– particularly Afro-Caribbean–community. I was really comfortable there. I loved London, and I wanted to see more of the world.