A guide book for Black travelers during Jim Crow
The _Negro Motorists Green Book _(or just Green Book) was an annual travel guide for North America, published between 1936-66. It listed Black-friendly, often Black-owned establishments ranging from lodgings, service stations to leisure facilities, restaurants, and country clubs along American roads. During the so-called Jim Crow Era of legal racial segregation in the U.S. (late 19th to early 20th century) the guide was essential in enabling Black Americans to travel without the fear of discrimination, humiliation, or harassment when many businesses denied services to Black travelers and so-called 'sundown towns', white-only communities, even threatened physical violence to travelers that wanted to stay overnight.
The guide was published by Victor Hugo Green, a mailman in New York City, who used his and other Black postal workers' knowledge to assemble a list of Black-friendly places in and around the city. They expanded to the whole country in the next year, reaching an annual circulation of 2 million copies in 1962.
While being a practical resource for the increasing number of Black car owners, the Green Book acted as a means to desegregate the country, promoting Black-owned business and travel. It directed purchasing power to the listed businesses and later served as evidence to the Supreme Court for the severity of racial discrimination along the road. The last issue of the Green Book was published in 1966, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination. Reports of racial profiling on contemporary U.S. roads suggest, however, that Green's dream of a USA where "we can go as we please, and without embarrassment", is still not a reality.
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