The Negro Motorist Green Book, commonly known as The Green Book, was an annual travel guide catering to Black travelers in the 20th Century. Considering the deep racial divides caused by Jim Crow laws, the Green Book provided Black families with a resource to navigate potential dangers in America at the time.
Postman and activist Victor Hugo Green began compiling data in his native New York regarding establishments that were friendly to Black patrons. In 1936, the first issue was published and its popularity skyrocketed in just four years time. After a brief hiatus during World War II, the book returned in 1946 with Green later changing the name of the book to The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide.
The book was offered via a partnership with the Esso Standard Oil Company and other sponsors. The book’s tag line was “Now We Can Travel Without Embarrassment.”
The book effectively listed out homes that individuals and families could rent out, typically owned by other Black families. Hotels, salons, garages, grocery stores, and restaurants were also listed, including those owned by white people who didn’t turn away Black patrons.
As the civil rights movement began to take hold in the late ’50’s and onto the mid-60’s, the necessity of the guide began to lower naturally and it published its last issue in 1966.
Oscar winner Mahershala Ali will star in the upcoming “Green Book” film in the role of Jamaican classical pianist, Don Shirley, in a true story about how he and his white driver and security guard, Tony Lip played by Viggo Mortensen, traveled across the deep south for Shirley’s tour there.
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