Black History Culture : Traveling While Black: The Green Book

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by cherryblossom, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    ‘Green Book’ Helped Keep African Americans Safe on the Road
    Posted on January 10, 2013 by Maria Goodavage

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    .....filmmaker Byron Hurt briefly describes what it used to be like for African Americans to travel in the United States. He talks about how blacks would take along boxed lunches in order to avoid being turned away from restaurants or dining cars. And he mentions in passing a guide called The Negro Motorist Green Book, later known as The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, or more commonly, simply The Green Book.

    Because of the limitations of the film’s length, the documentary couldn’t devote much time exploring this sidebar in black history. So we decided to delve a little more deeply into the guide many considered indispensable for safe and “embarrassment-free” travel.

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    The Green Book
    , which was published from 1936 until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, listed establishments across the U.S. (and eventually North America) that welcomed blacks during a time when segregation and Jim Crow laws often made travel difficult — and sometimes dangerous.

    “Carry The Green Book with you. You may need it,” advises the cover of the 1949 edition. And under that, a quote from Mark Twain, which is heartbreaking in this context: “Travel is fatal to prejudice.”

    The Green Book became very popular, with 15,000 copies sold per edition in its heydey. It was a necessary part of road trips for many families.

    As horrendous as some of the issues African Americans were faced with, the guide referred to them in a sideways, almost genteel way. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to the spring 1956 edition:

    Millions of people hit the road each year, to get away from their old surroundings, to see and learn how people live, and meet new and old friends.

    Modern travel has given millions of people an opportunity to see the wonders of the world. Thousands and thousands of dollars are spent each year on various modes of transportation. Money spent in this manner brings added revenue to tradesmen throughout the country.

    The white traveler has had no difficulty in getting accommodations, but with the Negro it has been different. He, before the advent of a Negro travel guide, had to depend on word of mouth, and many times accommodations were not available.

    Now things are different. The Negro traveler can depend on The Green Book for all the information he wants, and has a wide selection to choose from. Hence this guide has made traveling more popular, without encountering embarrassing situations..........continued....
    http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/green-book-helped-keep-african-americans-safe-on-the-road
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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  3. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Victor Hugo Green (November 9, 1892 - 1960[1]) was a Harlem, New York, postal employee and civic leader. He was the creator of an African-American travel guide known as The Green Book. It was first published as The Negro Motorist Green Book and later as The Negro Travelers' Green Book. The books were published from 1936 to 1966.[2] He reviewed hotels and restaurants that did business with African Americans during the time of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the United States. He printed 15,000 copies each year.

    In the 1930s, he began to collect information on stores in the New York area that accepted black travelers, and published his first guide in 1936. It was so popular that he immediately began to expand its coverage the next year to other US destinations. After retiring from the Postal Service, Green continued to work on updating issues of The Green Book, and building up the related travel business he had established in 1947.

    He was born on November 9, 1892, in New York City, the eldest of three children of William H. and Alice A. Green and grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey. Starting in 1913 he worked as a postal carrier in Bergen County, New Jersey.

    In 1918 Green married Alma Duke (1889-1978) of Richmond, Virginia.[6] She came to New York as part of the Great Migration from the South to northern cities in the early twentieth century. After their marriage, the couple moved to Harlem, New York, living in an apartment at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue. [7]

    He died in 1960.

    As African Americans took part in the American car culture, they were restricted by racial segregation in the United States. State laws in the South required separate facilities for African Americans. "For the Negro traveler, whether on business or pleasure, there was always trouble finding suitable accomodation in hotels and guest houses where he would be welcomed."[8]

    In 1936 Green "thought of doing something about this. He thought of a listing, as comprehensive as possible, of all first-class hotels throughout the United States that catered to Negroes." [9] He collected information on hotels, restaurants andgas stations that would do business with African Americans for his first edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book. Since some towns did not have hotels or motels that would accept African American guests, he listed "tourist homes" where owners would rent room to travelers.[5][10] It featured information restricted to the New York metropolitan area.[5] In his introduction, Green wrote:

    "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 rights and privileges in the United States."[5]

    He created a publishing office in Harlem. In 1947 he established a Vacation Reservation Service to book reservations at black-owned establishments. By 1949 the guide included destinations in Bermuda, Mexico and Canada and listed food, lodging, and gas stations.[11] In 1952 Green changed the name to The Negro Travelers' Green Book. His travel bureau office was located at 200 W. 135th Street in Harlem, New York.[6]

    He printed 15,000 copies each year of The Green Book, marketing them to white as well as black-owned businesses to demonstrate "the growing affluence of African Americans."[5] At the time, Esso franchised gas stations to African Americans, when some other companies did not, and these became popular sales points for the book.[5]

    Although Green died in 1960, publication continued, with his widow Alma serving as editor, [12] until 1966.[1] Passage of theCivil Rights Act of 1964 marked the beginning of the book's obsolescence for which Green had hoped in the introduction to the first edition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_H._Green
     
  4. Kadijah

    Kadijah Banned MEMBER

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    Found this article on Washington, DC, about many of the establishments listed in the Green Book for black travelers during the 1930's-1960's.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/11/AR20100911053...

    Revealing a path through segregated D.C.
    The discovery of a 1949 edition of the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide important to African Americans traveling during segregation and needing to find friendly hotels, restaurants, shops and other services, helps shed light on the District's important role in the African American experience. It has also inspired a new play.

    With a quotation from Mark Twain - "Travel is fatal to prejudice" - on its cover, the guidebook was published annually from 1936 until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 rendered it obsolete. The book, inspired by guides that told Jewish travelers which hotels and restaurants were restricted, covered places from Mexico to Montreal, identifying restaurants, service stations, hotels, "tourist homes," taverns, liquor stores, beauty parlors, nightclubs, drugstores and tailors that catered to blacks who'd grown weary of wandering into "whites-only" establishments.

    During segregation, it wasn't uncommon for African American travelers to pack meals, blankets and even containers of gasoline in their cars for long trips. "We didn't want to stop anywhere and get into a situation where we didn't know how it was going to turn out," says Ramsey, who is 60.

    A rich D.C. past


    But the drama could just as easily have been set in Washington, in the Lincoln's neighborhood of Shaw, which was the city's hub of black urban life - before riots, the great Green Line tear-up and gentrification did a number on U Street, once known as the Black Broadway. The 1949 edition of the Green Book vouched for Aunt Brenda's Pit Barbecue in Albuquerque and suggested that African American travelers looking for a friendly barber in Tulsa might stop by Swindall's. The District had more listings than many entire states - more than 60 addresses, many of them on or around U Street and Florida Avenue, including three restaurants and a tavern on the same block as the theater.

    They're all long gone: An office building now covers two of the old addresses (goodbye, Earl's and Capitol), and a third (Chicken Paradise, at 1210 U) seems to have simply disappeared. The other restaurant, the Casbah, is now Ben's Next Door, on the other side of Ben's Chili Bowl from the Lincoln. Many D.C. addresses listed in the '49 Green Book are boarded up. Several buildings have been replaced by parking lots, softball fields or office complexes, as with the beauty parlor, Apex, which was on U Street where the city's massive Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center now sits. Harrison's, a tavern on Florida Avenue, is now a transitional house for homeless men. Service stations became custard shops and hipster clothing stores. The old barbershop at 1803 Florida is now a printing shop.

    "This was a poorish neighborhood where people went about their daily lives, and now it's hip and groovy with pubs and spas and gyms," says Wendy Melechen, who has owned The Printer since 1986. "But I've seen less racial change than a change in age and socioeconomics."

    Lonnie G. Bunch III, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, says his family used the Green Book on a trip from New Jersey to Minneapolis. "In some ways, what the Green Book reminds us is how central Washington, D.C., is to the African American experience," he says.

    He adds that Shaw's economic and racial transformation - which started with the end of legal segregation, was delayed by the 1968 riots and picked up speed over the past couple of decades - is a "natural evolution" but that it has also "meant the demise of many of these African American establishments. In some ways, the rush for African Americans to be Americans meant leaving some of these businesses behind so you could now go into the white store. Much is gained with integration, but something is also lost."

    And at Ninth and P streets, S&W Liquors has been selling booze under the same name since the Jim Crow era. Not that anybody has offered owner Andy Kim a key to the city. "This liquor store is a historic store?" he says incredulously one morning as a steady stream of customers came in to buy cigarettes, beer, Gatorade and hard liquor through a bulletproof glass window the previous owner installed.

    Says the Smithsonian's Bunch: "The lack of knowledge about the Green Book also tells us about the lack of knowledge many Americans have of how segregation really worked - how it had impacts dramatic and impacts small. But all the impacts hurt. The more people understand that through the Green Book, the more they'll understand what has changed."


    Thanks for renewing our knowledge of our rich past, Cherryblossom! :toast:
     
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