Saturday, December 30, 2017

John Malveaux: The Green Book: The Black Travelers’ Guide to Jim Crow America

Cover of the 1940 edition of the Green Book. (Credit: New York Public Library Collections)

John Malveaux of 
sends this link:

During the height of segregation and Jim Crow, many African Americans owned copies of the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” a guide that informed travelers of the safest places to eat, sleep or get a haircut when on the open road. The book was first published in 1936 by a Harlem postal worker, and it continued to be released in updated and expanded editions until the mid-1960s and the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

“There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.”

That was how the authors of the “Negro Motorist Green Book” ended the introduction to their 1948 edition. In the pages that followed, they provided a rundown of hotels, guest houses, service stations, drug stores, taverns, barber shops and restaurants that were known to be safe ports of call for African American travelers. The “Green Book” listed establishments in segregationist strongholds such as Alabama and Mississippi, but its reach also extended from Connecticut to California—any place where its readers might face prejudice or danger because of their skin color. With Jim Crow still looming over much of the country, a motto on the guide’s cover also doubled as a warning: “Carry your Green Book with you—You may need it.”

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