The Green Book
Approximately 10 years ago I learned about the Green Book (“The Negro Motorist Green Book” – official title), a book for African-Americans to use as a reference for traveling while Black throughout the United States without “embarrassments.” during the Jim Crow era.
When I learned about this book, I became very interested in wondering if my father had used this book when he traveled from Detroit, Michigan in 1955 to San Diego to accept a position as a technical artist for Convair, an aviation manufacturing firm. BTW he designed the brochure for the interior of JFK’s presidential airplane. He had lost his Art Director position with the U.S. Army through some maneuvering by his department heads to eliminate six African-Americans from their positions. He and three other African Americans fought the removal all the way to the White House for a final decision – they lost.
At any rate, my curiosity was peaked because he drove his 1949 red Mercury from Detroit to San Diego on Route 66 to Los Angeles and down US 101 to San Diego. I wondered where was he able to get gas for his car, sleep in a motel, or even eat in a restaurant. And once he got to San Diego, where did he stay before he was able to find housing to have the rest of the family join him. Did he stay at the Douglas Hotel or the Simmons Hotel? Did he take his meals at the Sun Restaurant or even the Brown Hostess? Unfortunately I will never know. My dad passed away in 2002 and no records were found concerning his cross country tip, but then I wasn’t looking for them.
Then in 2018 the film titled “The Green Book” was released. When it came to town I went to view it. However it was not what I expected. That film was not really about the Green Book as such that was used by African-Americans in their travels. Instead it was about the relationship between the African- American Pianist Don Shirely and his chauffeur (an Italian-American bouncer) who served as Shirley’s bodyguard and driver. The “Green Book” was given to Shirley to help him navigate the Jim Crow laws as he toured the South. The movie is illustrative on the differences of how Shirley was treated on and off stage.
To learn the actual history of the Green Book, use the below links. I know a few years ago I wrote about the Green Book but thought it was important to bring up the subject once again because the Governor of Florida and his minions have decided the Black History is irrelevant and lacks educational value.
The Florida law requires lessons to be taught in “an objective manner,” and not “used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.” It also says students should not be made to “feel guilt” because of actions committed by others in the past. DeSantis and other proponents of the law, which went into effect last summer, contend some teachers have inserted political beliefs into lessons related to race.
The language in the legislation dubbed the Stop Woke Act is sufficiently vague that educators and civil rights leaders worry it is having a chilling effect. The new law doesn’t prohibit teaching events like the Newberry lynchings, but teachers in several parts of the state said they fear it will compel them to water down or gloss over uncomfortable truths about Florida’s past. (https://wapo.st/3QYL7NA).
Not sure how one teaches guilt.
The Green Book [opens in a new tab (window)].
Alvin Hall’s Story about the Green Book [opens in a new tab (window)]
Alvin Hall’s visual journey about the Green Book [opens in a new tab (window)]
Alvin Hall’s 38 minute podcast about the Green Book [opens in a new tab (window)]
If you would like a copy of the Green Book, this link [opens in a new tab (window)] to the New York Public Library’s digital collection of 23 books from different years
In September the Smithsonian Traveling exhibit about the Green Book Came to Jackson, MS. My wife and I drove the four hour trip to spend the morning at the Jackson Civil Rights Museum to visit the exhibit. The links below are some of the exhibits we saw. At the time we were the only two visiting the exhibit.
The Green Book-Smithsonian Travel -1 Exhibit-Jackson, MS Click here (23 images)
The Green Book-Smithsonian Travel -2 Exhibit-Jackson, MS Click here (19 images)
The Green Book-Smithsonian Travel -3 Exhibit-Jackson, MS Click here (25 images)
The following two videos are illustrative in the useful aspects of the Green Book when traveling from Chicago to Huntsville, Alabama to visit relative. This was an interactive display as part of the Smithsonian travel exhibit.
The visitor could follow the either the long trip or the short trip to Grandma’s home in Huntsville, Alabama. At specific spots along the trip, the visitor is encouraged to click on the squares to see a video of an encounter the Black family may be witnessed to.
1949 Chicago to Huntsville – Long Trip
1949 Chicago to Huntsville – Short Trip