Traveling while black? The Green Book can help

I love learning about little know black history facts.

In graduate school, I created a website about Rosenwald Schools. Never heard of it? You’re in luck. Check out the site to learn more about how the unlikely partnership between Booker T. Washington and a Jewish immigrant named Julius Rosenwald created schools nearly 5,000 African-American school in the South.

My next project is about The Negro Motorist Green Book.

I first learned about the Green Book while listening to an episode of the Buzzfeed podcast Another Round with Heben and Tracy. 

During the closing segment the duo “buys a round” (hence the name) for a person, place, thing or idea. Heben gave a special shout out to archivists and digitizers at the New York Public Library.

The library recently published 22 digital versions of the Green Book, which circulated from 1937-1964. You can check the digital collection here.

 If you would like to listen to segment about the Green Book, start listening at 1:05:04.

So what is the Green Book? During the Jim Crow era, the annual guidebook provided hotels, restaurants, salons, barber shops and other locations that were safe for people of color while traveling.

The book is divided into states and major cities.

I created a Google Map of the Kansas City, Missouri locations from the 1963-64 Green Book.

On Sunday, I set out on a scavenger hunt to see if the locations were still in service or if the buildings were still around. I used Snapchat during as I drove around. These locations were around more than 50 years ago. I had hope that some of there were still around, but a lot of the buildings were no longer there. I did have some luck! The YMCA building was repurposed into an apartment building.

My plan is to create a multi-platform story that combines video interviews with people in the area who used the Green Book; audio slide show of what’s left of the locations; the history of the Green Book and an in-depth map of the locations listed in the Green Book. I would like to publish it on my station’s website. 

I’m really excited to work on this project. I will continue to blog about my progress.


Have I piqued your interest in the Green Book. Here’s a list of suggested reading: