Facts

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October 5, 2017 | No Comments » | Topics: Facts |

Black travellers in the 1950s had their own guidebook to the US telling them where it was safe to stop, shop, eat and even stay the night (article)

In 1956, the year that federal funding made the Interstate Highway System possible, Jim Crow was still the law of the land. In the South, racial segregation was enforced by law — and had been since shortly after Reconstruction. In many parts of the North, the codes were enforced in practice. This reality made cross-country trips complicated, and sometimes even perilous, for black travelers.

Some African-American tourists would drive all night instead of trying to find lodging in an unfamiliar and possibly dangerous town. They would pack picnics so they could avoid stopping at restaurants that might refuse to serve them. Some people would even carry portable toilets in the trunks of their cars, knowing there was a good chance they would be turned away from roadside restrooms.

But in 1936, a man named Victor Hugo Green started a travel guide to make life on the road easier and safer for black motorists.

The guide listed, state by state, the restaurants, hotels, service stations, and other businesses that would welcome African-American travelers. Green called it “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” or “The Green Book,” for short.

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