Yep,that title is correct! By 1936, many people including African Americans(Negro or Colored then) were on the road with shiny new cars,hoping to experience the freedom of the open road,to see the world for business or pleasure.Although,many would be able to stop at nice restaurants for a meal,get nice lodging,with freedom to explore the area_some could not. Most people associate the South in America with segregation.The truth is in all areas of the United States,African Americans faced segregation,humiliation,danger and hardships in the years of legal segregation. To the rescue_
1936 The Negro Motorist Green Book created by Victor Green
1940 Expanded Edition
When I first learned of this book a couple years ago,I was amazed at the creativity and humanitarian cause of Victor H.Green."He saved many lives of African-Americans during this Era".Mr.Green was a Harlem Postal Worker and Civic Leader.He first published in 1936_updating until 1964. With this book African-Americans could safely drive the highways and byways on "Road Trips" by referring to the State of travel for various services and accommodations.Here's an example:
Now,it is a fact that Southern States_ as opposed to anywhere else_were more notorious under the system of legal segregation from post Civil War Reconstruction years until the triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950's and 1960's.Interestingly,under this system both blacks and whites had to adhere to a strict legalized code called_"The Jim Crow" laws! Of course,for blacks it was demoralizing with swift & brutal punishment,physical assault,and often death at the hands of white law enforcement.What I didn't know_was that if whites violated Jim Crow Laws_they were ostracized,assaulted,their business boycotted or destroyed and sometimes killed! And,in most states if African-Americans traveled through a town/city_"The Sunset Laws" said they had to be out of the city limits by sundown! I can't breathe right now_so,check out some of these photo's from the past_
View more Library of Congress photos here_ http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/085_disc.html
Now that I've gotten my regular breathing back...had to call on the "ZEN WITHIN" me_let's continue.The thing is "The Green Book" provided African-Americans with a way to plan a trip,ensure shelter,meals,auto services and anything else needed for the enjoyment of their trip! Now this fellow could "Filler-Up" just about anywhere he wanted_
African-Americans did not have those choices! A big thumbs up to "ESSO" service stations back then_as they allowed African-Americans to franchise gas stations across the land. Mind you it made good business sense! So when ,you saw an "ESSO" sign coupled with a sign that said "Blacks Welcome Here"_you were Good to Go!
By the way_after you finished filling-up_check out the in store display of Maps & purchase your copy at 25 cents of "The Negro Motorist Green Book" at your friendly ESSO station....
..then take in a movie where you were WELCOME!
This is a really "Special" ESSO station!!..just sayin...
Being a small child on one of these "Road Trips" with parents or relatives_left the child perplexed I'm sure."Mom why can't we stop there","Dad,I need to use the bathroom","Mom,I'm hungry!!!!",etc...Having a Chat with a good friend and Soror Karen the other day_we talked about these issues! She reminisced about her "Road Trips" to East Texas..where a basket of fried chicken and other goodies were available for those moments of hunger.I don't recall alot of "Road Trips" as a youngster_but late 60's my Dad would drive me back to college & always stopped for breakfast at the same restaurant where people of all races ate peacefully together! By that time we'd experienced many moments in history like this one that was 47 years old yesterday!
Calvin Alexander Ramsey has written a book called "Ruth and the Green Book" to give a historical fictional overview of what those journey's may have been for young children.
Read about his story here_
If you'd like to download a PDF file of the complete book,"TheNegro Motorist Green Book"here's the link_
Even though we've come pretty far,here's a "Modern Take" on The NEW Green Book codes_
Regardless of the circumstances for African-Americans during this time_it was still time with family and friends,lots of good food to eat,games being played,laughable moments,kisses and hugs, and tears of farewell when it was time to part,time to..... "Get On Down The Road"....."Memorable Road Trip",indeed it was!
"Road Trips"...thank God we don't face some of those issues today! Watch for more "Memorable Road Trips" for August blog posts!
~How would you feel traveling with the limitations that faced African-Americans in those times on your "Road Trip"?~