The Negro Travelers’ Green Book was a dignified response to racism. An essay by Carvell Wallace talks about what it meant to be traveling while Black in the two Americas. Above, Gordon Parks photographed segregated Dayton Beach, Florida in 1943.
“The fact that the American Dream presents two very different faces depending on the color of yours is why Victor H. Greene created the Negro Motorist Green Book in 1936….He developed a solution to what he termed the ’embarrassment’ that comes with being refused service for the color of your skin. Greene created a travel guide that listed all the restaurants, filling stations, museums, hotels, guest homes, grocery stores and establishments that readers would feel safe being Black in. The Green Book, as it was affectionately known by Black families, began publishing annually in 1936 and ran for 28 years, growing steadily in listings and readership, and becoming a staple in Black homes. The final issue ran in 1964, by which time the combined forces of the Civil Rights Act and the development of the freeway system made it easier to avoid uncomfortable stops, rendering the book theoretically obsolete.”