My wife recently came across an article about a PBS show on The Green Book. Neither
one of us had ever heard about “The Negro’s Travelers”  Green Book, but it looked like an interesting read.

Little did we know how deeply it would affect us.

The Green Book was an African-American published “safe travel” guide. It was

published from the 1936 straight through the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

220px-The_Negro_Motorist_Green_BookThe book contained places that provided African-Americans with the basic services, such

as lodging, gas stations and restaurants, while traveling through the United States. These

places not only served, but catered to African-Americans by providing locations where

we could actually feel welcomed at a time in this country when we as African –

Americans were not welcome everywhere. The book grew larger each year as word

spread of more and more businesses that where willing to open their doors to African-

Americans. The Green Book became “the bible of black travel during Jim Crow”,[3]

 

Reading up on the history of such an important book brought sadness and pride to our

hearts. Take a moment to really think about this, it was barely 50 years ago that my wife

and I would have needed such a book just to travel this country and feel somewhat safe.

Never knowing when they would encounter a “Sundown town”.51bgsIAt8QL Despite the uneasiness that my people may have felt in traveling, I am proud because of the strength of those early pioneers. Can you imagine the amount of bravery needed to travel during those times? Knowing that you couldn’t just stop anywhere if you had an emergency, if you were hungry or tired and needed to rest? I’m so proud of the resolve of my people, who didn’t let the fear of racism deter them from traveling. They are an inspiration to our family.

I wondered if my parents knew about The Green Book. You see my mother would travel from NY in the summers to visit Family in South Carolina. So I called her, and not surprisingly she knew first hand of the book. Her family had used it on many a trip to help them navigate on the roads. She told me a few stories of her travel down south

during that time. After listening to what she and my grandparents had to endure while

traveling down south, I sat quietly reflecting and thanking God that things have changed

so much in 50 years.

 

We are often asked why would I want to travel with my family in an RV? Is it safe out

there for minorities? I now have a much greater appreciation for how deep the fear and

concerns run of many African-Americans. While I’m thankful there isn’t a glaring need

for such a Green book today, we need to be very careful and deliberate in our travels

especially in certain areas of the country where change has been slow and resistant. This

country seems very restless and the winds of change are blowing loudly. Remember that

if we don’t know our history we are doomed to repeat it.

 

We are blessed to have found out about the Green book. It will continue to encourage us

to travel this great country and explore. We’re also on a quest to find a copy for our

collection. Click  to check out the 1956 Spring edition

 

We want our kids to know this history and never forget…..

 

Resources and References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Negro_Motorist_Green_Book#cite_note-WaPo-3
  2. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/green-book-helped-keep-african-americans-safe-on-the-road/
  3. http://www.amazon.com/Sundown-Towns-Hidden-Dimension-American/dp/0743294483
A step back in time .. The Green book
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