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WBLS celebrates Black History Month with “Game Changers” and for the last day, we’re highlighting Victor Hugo Green (1892-1960) and his famed Green Book.
The Jim Crow era was a dark time in our nation’s history and if a black family wanted to travel the country, finding a place to eat or spend the night from point A to point B wasn’t easy and these families were lucky if a hostile situation didn’t turn violent. Postal worker and travel writer Victor Hugo Green had an idea to help his fellow African American by publishing The Negro Motorist Green Book, or simply known as Green Book. Though Green never lived in the South himself, he utilized his network of fellow postal workers around the country to gather information on restaurants, hotels and gas stations that would serve people of color.
The first issue being published in 1936, focusing on the New York area and from there expanded nationwide. These guides were sold by mail order, via black-owned businesses and gas stations that served African Americans. This book was so vital that it even got recognition from the NAACP.
Publication of the Green Book was suspended from 1942 to 1946 for World War II but picked up again in 1947 and by the 1950s, it was renamed The Negro Travelers’ Green Book. With the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Green Book was no longer needed but sadly, Victor Green did not live to see this day, passing away in 1960.
The videos below give a more detailed account of the Green Book’s importance to the African American family in the 1940s and 1950s, including a documentary about this guide, which gives us a more real-life look at traveling on the road across country over the Academy Awarding-Winning film starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.