What’s Inside the Green Book?
During segregation and the “Jim Crow" era, discriminatory laws and practices made interstate travel by car both problematic and dangerous for African Americans. Along the nation’s highways, black travelers were routinely denied access to essential services like gas, food, restrooms and lodging. Stopping in an unfamiliar place carried the risk of humiliation, threats, or even worse. To find safe and friendly accommodations, travelers relied on a network of shared advice, exchanged by word of mouth and also published in select travel guides such as The Green Book.
The Negro Motorist Green Book was a guidebook for African American travelers that provided the names of hotels, boarding houses, taverns, restaurants, service stations, and other establishments throughout the country that served African American patrons. The information included in the Green Book helped enhance their safety and treatment. During the Jim Crow era, laws actually enforced segregation in the south between 1877 through the 1950s and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. The term “Jim Crow” came from a minstrel show character and marks almost a century of legal segregation and discrimination against African Americans.
Published from 1936 to 1966, Victor H. Green, a New Jersey Postal Worker, created his namesake guide to help black travelers safely navigate the segregated realities of Jim Crow America. Green used his contacts in the postal service, as well as input from traveling salespeople and business owners, to complete the listings. He also partnered with the Standard Oil Company to distribute the Green Book at what were then known as ESSO gas stations.
If you would like to see a copy of The Green Book, click on the link below:
There is also an excellent movie titled “The Green Book” starring Viggo Mortensen. The link below will connect you to the trailer: