The Green Book
Victor H. Green, a letter carrier & WWI veteran, created a travel guide to help African Americans travel safely during the Jim Crow era. The “Green Book: was updated regularly from 1936 to 1967 & helped thousands during its publication.
Victor Green’s Motive
Victor Hugo Green was born in 1892 in Manhattan and moved to Harlem with his wife and young kids during the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a period of advancement for Black culture in the 1920s. The region became ideal for African Americans fleeing racial oppression and seeking new opportunities. The advancement of Black culture gave African Americans a newfound sense of freedom and opportunities to enjoy the luxuries of their white counterparts—like automobile ownership and road-tripping.
Victor Green, being a U.S. mail carrier and WWI veteran, knew that traveling a segregated country was a dangerous venture and set out to create a travel guide for Black motorists
The Green Book
The first edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book (1936) was a comprehensive list of hotels, restaurants, and gas stations that served African Americans.
Southern states were the most popular vacation spots, but also the most dangerous for African Americans to travel. In later editions, The Green Book not only included safe havens for Black motorists, but incorporated ways they could protect themselves if forced to deal with police, mechanics, or unexpected stops in unsafe areas.
Success of The Green Book and Victor Green
By the 1940s, Victor Green opened his own publishing company in Harlem to support The Green Book. By 1949 it included listings across the entire United States, Bermuda, and Mexico. In 1947, Green opened the Vacation Reservation Service, a travel agency further supporting Black-owned businesses and travelers. By the 1950s, Black motorists rarely traveled without The Green Book.
- When the Civil Rights movement began in the 1960s, The Green Book was credited as being a literature champion for the fight for equal rights in the United States.
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