A new marketing organization and hospitality training company is working with businesses to bring Black people to York County.
Sojourn Noir (Bring Yourself Here) began as a seedling vision in 2019 in York City. Leisure Lee LLC, the parent company of Sojourn Noir, was developed to respond to historical issues of oppression for Black travelers, according to founder and CEO Joanne Wilmore.
“The very nature of creating beauteous spaces for Black people to rest and enjoy leisure is an act that defies the natural order this country set forth for Black descendants of the Transatlantic slave trade,” Wilmore said.
The company will encourage African Americans to explore experiences, activities, and adventures they’ve been historically denied access or safe passage to reintroduce them to the restorative power of rest and sleep and increase the cultural intelligence of local and national businesses and tourism bureaus to provide an optimal travel experience.
Initial funding for development was provided through a grant from the York County Community Foundation.
Black U.S. leisure travelers accounted for $109.4 billion in travel spending in 2019 and those dollars deserve respect and meaningful engagement, she said.
Sojourn Noir works with York area retailers, restaurants, and other members of the hospitality and tourism industry to help create inviting spaces and experiences where Black travelers feel respected, welcome, and are filled with a sense of belonging.
Sojourn Noir recognizes that Black people in the U.S. have historically and purposely been denied the self-care practices of rest, luxury and leisure including the opportunity to travel and explore freely.
“It is beyond time to change that. Sojourn Noir defines self-care as the purposeful and intentional stepping away from systems of oppression whose purpose is to keep one too exhausted, frustrated and distracted to have space to dream, imagine, and actualize freedom,” Wilmore said.