The Negro Motorist Green Book
The Green Book was an annual guidebook for African-American roadtrippers. It was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966. The book was little known outside the African- American community. It is now being digitized and republished by the Public Library of New York and is available for download on the Internet.
About The Negro Motorist Green Book in brief
The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African-American roadtrippers. It was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966. During the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against African Americans especially and other non-whites was widespread. There has been a revived interest in it in the early 21st century in connection with studies of black travel during the Jim Crow era. Four issues have been republished in facsimile, and have sold well. Twenty-three additional issues have now been digitized by the New York Public Library Digital Collections. The Green Book became \”the bible ofblack travel during Jim Crow\”, enabling black travelers to find lodgings, businesses, and gas stations that would serve them along the road. Shortly after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed the types of racial discrimination that had made the Green Book necessary, publication ceased and it fell into obscurity. The book was little known outside the African- American community. It is now being digitized and republished by the Public Library of New York and is available for download on the Internet at www.newyorkpubliclibrary.org/green-book. The first edition of the book was published in 1936, with a New York-focused first edition published in 1937. It expanded to cover much of North America, including most of the United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
After the end of legal slavery in the North and later in the South after the Civil War, most freed black men continued to live at little more than a subsistence level. They could plan leisure excursions for the first time. They were aided in this measure by the 1875 Well-to-do Act of 1875, which had made it illegal to discriminate against African-Americans in public accommodations and public transportation. In the pre-Jim Crow era this meant mingling with whites in hotels, hotels, resorts, and other leisure facilities. They encountered a backlash, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, for instance traveling by rail from New Orleans to resorts along the coast of the Gulf. Black Americans employed as athletes, entertainers, and salesmen also traveled frequently for work purposes. They faced hardships such as white-owned businesses refusing to serve them or repair their vehicles, and threats of physical violence and forcible expulsion from whites-only \”sundown towns\”. They were subjected to racial profiling by police departments, sometimes seen as ‘uppity’ or ‘too prosperous’ just for the act of driving, which many whites regarded as a white prerogative. They risked harassment or worse on and off the highway. Black travelers in the U.S. faced major problems unknown to most whites. As a result, simple auto journeys for black people were fraught with difficulty and potential danger. Black Americans were in danger if they stayed past sunset, and were found in sundown towns.