This new initiative is about empowering the real ‘heart and soul’ of Virginia.
With an aim to elevate Black culture across the state, Virginia Tourism just launched a new campaign called Heart & Soul to celebrate Black creatives and entrepreneurs in and from Virginia. Each month, the state is putting a spotlight on the creators, trendsetters, and artists who shape Virginian culture by providing personal insight into their favorite places to explore, eat, work, and relax in their featured city guides.
“Black tourism is essential, and Virginia’s Black culture has shaped the way we live, love and travel,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Our ‘Heart & Soul’ creators are giving visitors an insider’s guide to exploring the best history, culture, food, and Black-owned businesses in some of Virginia’s most vibrant destinations—Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Roanoke. We know that travel has the power to be transformative, and we are delighted to be shining a light on these remarkable creators and artists as they showcase the very best of Black culture and why Virginia is for Lovers.”
Fashion content creator, Tashira Halyard, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia, who is known for seamlessly blending fashion and social justice into her social media brand, is one of the first influential voices being featured. Her trendy Alexandria city guide focuses on style and self-care, to walk visitors through her favorite chic cafes, scenic parks, and upscale boutiques. Halyard was inspired to participate, detailing “celebrating Black travel honors those that came before us and is a step towards a wondrous and bright future for the generations ahead to keep building.”
Another notable Virginian being spotlighted is Matt Harmon, a local business owner and wine enthusiast, who launched Harmony Wine, to turn his passion into a small business. Harmon is on a mission to make wine tastings more accessible to a more inclusive audience and challenge the idea who “should” drink wine. Harmon says, “I’m a Black man with a scruffy beard and wild hair. Sometimes I drink wine in a suit, other times I drink it in joggers. The point is, when drinking wine there’s no right or wrong way to do it.” This stage gives him an opportunity to promote his brand, which is available for distribution in the Richmond, Charlottesville, and DC Metro areas.
Mike Spurlock, also known as “Richmond’s Friendly Foodie”, is an event professional and content creator who’s built a loyal food-loving following on Tiktok. He notes, “one in five Black Americans can trace their roots back to Virginia. That influence continues today and our culture can be seen in the local food scene, arts, and enterprises.” Spurlock’s guide to Richmond includes some of his favorite restaurants for southern-inspired cuisine, educational museums, and favorite spots for outdoor concerts.
Check the Heart & Soul page and Virginia's social channels to meet even more new faces and discover their favorite places to explore, eat, work, and chill in their featured city guides.