Decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery, African Americans continued to suffer unequal treatment, especially in the South.
Jim Crow Laws discriminated against blacks in nearly every aspect of public life, including travel. Although the roads and highways were free for all to use, doing so was not easy for people of color. The Green Book, written by Victor Green, provided guidance for African American travelers to find safe locations to sleep, eat, shop and purchase gas. Locally, the guide was used by the Idelwild Chamber of Commerce in Michigan to assist black American travelers in the 1950s and 1960s.
The above text is presented as it is written in the must see exhibits section of “The Gilmore Car Museum” website.
This Gilmore Museum display is a 2016 National Association of Automobile Museums Interpretive Exhibits Award-Winner and is / Sponsored by PNC Bank Foundation. Location: Heritage Center Annex
The Gilmore Car Museum features over 400 vehicle displays in a 189,000 square feet plus, exhibit area. It is this one and very compelling special display that I have chosen to feature.
The Negro Motorist Green Book – When first viewing this award winning display you may think you are seeing a bit of history about, “Gas Stations in America” or “Vehicle repair facilities” along American roadways. The fact is this very special display is presenting so much more.
Racial inequities are part of history from almost the beginning of America. The fact is that many of these beliefs still hold true today is rather disturbing. I was compelled from the displays presentation to refresh myself with the “Jim Crow law” as it’s been more than a few years since I remember any of it from school. In short and as presented from Encyclopedia Britannica the Jim Crow law, in U.S. history, is any of the laws that enforced racial segregation in the South between the end of reconstruction in 1877 and the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. Quite frankly, some laws were hard to grasp and made me ask how anyone could treat another human so badly? List of Jim Crow Laws
The Green Book which was first published in 1936 was the idea of postal carrier Victor Hugo Green. Due to many “Whites only” policies across America, black travelers often could not find safe places to eat and sleep. Inspired by earlier books for Jewish audiences, Green developed a guide to help blacks in America travel without fear.
Listings within the “Green Book” were organized by city and state, with the majority being located in major cities. Travelguide was another publication which was marketed with the slogan “Vacation and Recreation without Humiliation”. The Green Book however was by far the most popular. From a sponsorship deal with Standard Oil, the book was made available for purchase at Esso stations across America. It eventually sold upwards of 15,000 copies per year. Victor Hugo Green died in 1960.
History.com states that In his memoir “A Colored Man’s Journey Through 20th Century Segregated America,” – Earl Hutchinson Sr. described purchasing a copy in preparation for a road trip he and his wife took from Chicago to California. “The ‘Green Book’ was the bible of every Negro highway traveler in the 1950s and early 1960s,” he wrote. “You literally didn’t dare leave home without it.”