Imagine needing a guide book to tell you where it was safe to stop for a meal, a room for the night, or even a bathroom break. That’s the world Black Americans lived in till very recently. Their guide through those perilous times was called the Green Book.
“Over the past year, the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC) has been conducting a detailed survey of extant buildings that once housed businesses listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide that provided African American travelers with information about businesses that accommodated Black customers to help them avoid the embarrassments, difficulties, and dangers caused by southern Jim Crow laws and de facto segregation in other sections of the country. First published in 1936 by New York postal worker and entrepreneur Victor Hugo Green, his wife Alma, and his small, dedicated staff, the Negro Motorist Green Book initially listed businesses in the New York Metropolitan area before adopting a national focus three years later. Aided by a cadre of informants—many of whom were Black postal workers—the Green Book listed businesses in all 50 states and, by the 1960s, included listings in Mexico and the Caribbean. Roughly 200 Black owned businesses and other institutions in South Carolina were listed in the guide between 1939 and its final edition published in 1967.”
To see more of Ramon Jackson’s blog for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History CLICK HERE.