Sites of Sanctuary: The Negro Motorist Green Book


ACLS Fellowship Program


Being black and traveling away from home during the Jim Crow era involved extensive planning, faith, and a guide called the “Negro Motorist Green Book.” Victor H. Green, an African-American postal worker, published this roadside companion from 1936 to 1966. It listed hotels, restaurants, barbershops, nightclubs, tailors, garages, and real estate offices that served African Americans. Automobile travel symbolized freedom in the United States and the Green Book was a powerful tool to persevere and literally move forward in the face of racism. The project analyzes twenty-one editions of the book, develops a comprehensive map, and documents remaining Green Book properties and related ephemera such as menus, ledgers, and marketing materials. The fact that these buildings remain as physical evidence of racial integration is an opportunity to reexamine and contextualize the troubled history of segregation, integration, black migration, and the rise of the black leisure class in the United States.