Spoilers ahead for the
The History of A Black Travel Guide
The guide is based on
Listings were categorized by state and city and often included address of people who opened their homes to Black travelers. The book eventually sold enough copies to allow Green to retire from the post office and create a publishing staff in Harlem.
The final edition came out in 1966, two years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act prohibits discrimination in public places, integrates schools, and makes employment discrimination illegal. It was the result of years of protests and activist work against segregation and the unjust treatment of Black people. This led to the
Of course, the laws changed but many hearts stayed the same. White business owners continued to resist the legal mandates and refuse to serve Black patrons. In 1968, All-Star Bowling Triangle owner Harry Floyd claimed his business was exempt from the new laws because it was private property. A group of Black college students from Orangeburg, South Carolina challenged him, showed up to bowl, and were denied entry. It eventually led to the Orangeburg Massacre, a protest where 200 unarmed Black students were attacked by police. The violence left three men dead and others wounded, sparking continued outrage.
Many Black people who tried to go to previously all-white establishments and schools were often met with violence from citizen and police. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 took place before the infamous Selma march known as Bloody Sunday, Martin Luther King’s assassination, and a host of other acts of violence showing that racism couldn’t be erased with a pen stroke. But it was a viable foundation for a shift in America.
The Green Book’s Legacy
The guidebook is now a cherished piece of history. A 1941 copy sold at a March 2015 auction for $22,500 and several copies are on display in museums like the National Museum for African American History and Culture.
Victor H. Green, a postal worker, created his namesake guide to help black travelers safely navigate the segregated realities of Jim Crow America. Our "Follow the Green Book" simulation explores the experience of using the Green Book.— Smithsonian NMAAHC (@NMAAHC) February 25, 2019
Learn More: https://t.co/J8Edctr5r9 #BHM pic.twitter.com/qYWPYrBCIC
The traveling guide is the subject of several documentaries, including
It also became a hot topic in 2018 with the release of
The Significance in
Including the traveler’s book in this story makes sense for several reasons. First, it’s a narrative that centers Black people and how they would rely on this book at that time. Second, it’s a reminder of how the simplest decision could put Black people in danger. George, Atticus, and Leti deviate slightly off course to Simmonsville to try Lydia’s, a local diner. Uncle George says he got a tip that Lydia’s could be a friendly spot for Black people. It seems to be a good move considering the next safe place in the guide is far way and they are all ready for a meal now. So, they take a chance and go for it.
The crew arrives and notices the place doesn’t have the same name anymore. Atticus and Leti aren’t sure about the stop but Uncle George affirms that they have every right to eat there. Unfortunately, they piece together that a few white locals did something terrible to Ms. Lydia. Now, those same people are on the way to run them away. The trio end up in a terrifying car chase with bullets tearing through their car window. A simple detour, something that travelers do all the time, could have ended with their deaths.
Only time will tell how Lovecraft Country’s