The Negro Motorist Green-Book
The freedom of movement that the automobile age promised was circumscribed for African Americans, who faced threats of intimidation and violence as part of the lived experience of racial segregation. Understanding the need for a means to navigate a safe path, New Jersey postal service employee Victor Green (1892–1960) and his wife, Alma (1889–1978), edited a guidebook listing commercial establishments such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and beauty salons that African Americans could safely patronize while traveling during the Jim Crow era. In the 1920s Victor and Alma moved to Harlem, where they began the Green-Book (sometimes hyphenated, sometimes not). The annual guide proved popular, with as many as 15,000 copies a year published from 1936 to 1966. Though Victor Green did not live to see the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawing racial discrimination, the cultural significance of the Greens’ guide in delineating racial segregation cannot be overestimated.
Currently on View at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
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