The Negro Motorist Green Book was a publication released in 1936 that served as a guide for African-American travelers. Because of the racist conditions that existed from segregation, blacks needed a reference manual to guide them to integrated or black-friendly establishments. That’s when they turned to “The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide” by activist Victor Green and presented by the Esso Standard Oil Company.
Originally provided to serve Metropolitan New York, the book received such an alarming response, it was spread throughout the country within one year. The catch phrase was “Now we can travel without embarassment.”
The Green Book often provided information on local “tourist homes,” which were private residences owned by blacks and open to travelers. It was especially helpful to blacks that traveled through “sunset towns” or towns that publicly stated that blacks had to leave the town by sundown or it would be cause for arrest. Also listed were hotels, barbershops, beauty salons, restaurants, garages, liquor stores, ball parks and taverns. It also provided a listing of the white-owned, black-friendly locations for accommodations and food.
The publication was free, with a 10-cent cost of shipping. As interest grew, the Green Book solicited salespersons nationwide to build its ad sales.
Inside the pages of the Green Book were action photos of the various locations, along with historical and background information for the readers’ review. Within the pages of the introduction, the guide states, “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 opportunities and privileges in the United States.”
The Green Book printed its last copy in 1964 after the passing of the Civil Rights Act.
To view The Green Book click here.
by Erica Taylor, Tom Joyner Morning Show