The Oldest Full-Service African American Travel Agency Continues to Help People Explore Africa


After six decades of being in business, Henderson Travel Agency, the oldest full-service travel agency, has sent hundreds of thousands of tourists to Africa and continues to do so to this very day.

Gaynelle Henderson, president of Henderson Travel Agency since 1984, was once planning to downsize the travel agency her parents founded over sixty years ago by moving the company to a home based business but she continuously received calls from people wanting to travel to Africa and other places world wide.

Henderson Travel Service, based out of Silver Springs, Maryland, is the nations oldest full service black-owned travel agency and the first black-owned travel agency to take large groups of travelers to Africa.

In 1955, Gaynelle Henderson’s parents, Freddye and Jacob Henderson founded the travel agency in Atlanta, Georgia. During a racially turbulent time in the United States, using the motto “Education through Exposure” Freddye Henderson felt that because of what was going on such as segregation and the start of the civil rights movement, black people would want to travel to Africa in order to learn more about their culture.

In 1957 when Ghana celebrated its formal independence from Britain and elected its first prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah, Henderson Travel Agency took their first group of clients to Africa. In order to make this trip possible, the Hendersons had to charter a plane from Paris because there were no commercial airlines flying to Africa.

Henderson Travel Agency has booked other international flights including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s flight to Norway when he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, along with flights for former United Nations ambassador, Andrew Young, author James Baldwin and Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens. In addition to those prominent figures, Henderson Travel Agency has worked with many black fraternities and sororities, black churches, historically black colleges, The National Medical Association, and many other black professional organizations.

As of today, Gaynelle Henderson is still running the successful business her parents started over sixty years ago and although she wants to downsize the business and work on other projects, she still answers eager travelers request that want to explore West Africa, South Africa, and other parts of the world.

Source: Cottman, Michael. 27 Feb. 2018,

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