THE GREEN BOOK
MAPPING BLACK MOBILITY IN AMERICA
Being black and traveling away from home during the Jim Crow era involved a great deal of planning, faith and a reliable travel guide called the “Green Book.” The Green Book was created by a black postal worker named Victor H. Green. It was published from 1936 to 1967 and considered the “Bible of Black Travel. The Green Book listed a variety of businesses including restaurants, hotels, barbershops, taverns, nightclubs, tailors, garages, doctors, drug stores, and real estate offices that served black travelers.
During the time it was in publication, there were over 1000 all-white communities called “Sundown Towns,” throughout the United States. Some posted signs or rang a bell at 6pm warning black people to leave before sundown. This is why the cover of the Green Book warned, “Always Carry Your Green Book With You—You May Need It.”
To bring the Green Book out of the past and re-present it in the current cultural paradigm of race and poverty, I would like to develop a digital interactive map that will trace the history of physical and social mobility of black Americans. This would be the first comprehensive Green Book map comprised from twenty-four editions. Sundown towns, lynching sites, real estate redlining, KKK chapters, and “law and order” targeted neighborhoods will be mapped. Users will interact with the map by typing in their zip code to see if they were raised in or near a sundown town or see if there are current hate groups in their area.
I produced the video below in partnership with the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.