The Negro Motorist Green Book: The “Bible of Black Travel” During 1936-1966

2 Posted by - February 23, 2017 - Injustices, JIM CROW, LATEST POSTS

African-Americans during the early 1900s were just like other ethnic groups, they wanted to get out travel and see other parts of the world. However, they could not do it freely and definitely could not do it without worries of being harassed and embarrassed by White supremacist groups and other Whites. #The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook that helped these African-Americans who wanted to travel. The book was referred to simply as the Green Book. It was published in New York City by mailman Victor H. Green in the U.S from 1936 to 1966. This was during the Jim Crow era, and there was a lot of discrimination against non-white people. Because of the hardships that man #Black people faced, not too many of them owned automobiles. However, the many of the black middle class individuals were able to become car owners, and these were the people who wanted to travel freely.

Many blacks drove, so they could avoid segregation on public transportation. George Schuyler wrote in 1930 “all Negroes who can do so purchase an automobile as soon as possible in order to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segregation and insult. It was also important for some Black Americans to travel because of their job, those who were entertainers, athletes and salesmen often had to travel. Black people driving had to worry about the dangers and inconveniences on the road such as being refused food, a place to sleep, or refusal to have their cars repaired. Black people also had to worry about whites-only “sundown towns.” White supremacists groups restricted the Black mobility as much as they could.

 

Many Black people during this era were racially profiled by police, many were punished for being too “uppity” or “too prosperous” if they were driving a car. Many were harassed and sometimes worse. Because of these concerns Green founded and published the Negro Motorist Green Book to help tackle these issues. He published the information to keep the Black traveler from being embarrassed, running into difficulties and just to make sure the overall traveling experience was a pleasant one.

The Green Book became the travelers “#the Bible of Black Travel during Jim Crow.” The book had information as to where travelers could lodge, businesses they could visit, and gas stations that would serve them. The book was only known in the Black community. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the publication of the book was ceases. A copy of the 1941 edition of the book will be displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture when it opens in 2016.

sources:

http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Race/R_Casestudy/Negro_motorist_green_bk.htm

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/green-book-helped-keep-african-americans-safe-on-the-road

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