The Negro Motorist Green Book




Victor H. Green, a post office employee and activist in Harlem, published the first Green Book in 1936 for the New York area. The next year, it expanded to cover the whole country. The book listed “hotels, boarding houses, restaurants, beauty shops, barber shops, and various other services” where Black people would be served. 15,000 copies were produced each year (until 1964) and sold to market Black-owned businesses and more friendly White ones like Esso, one of the few gas stations that would sell to Black people.

During the shameful Jim Crow period, when many businesses all over the US refused to serve black people (even in emergencies), the information allowed black families to travel to parts of the US they had only heard of. In the South, knowledge of safe and unsafe areas could be life saving.

Free PDF (1949 edition): The Green Book


3 thoughts on “The Negro Motorist Green Book

  1. Interesting that this is is part of, and sponsored by Henry Ford Foundation, in that, it shows that there is merit to the idea that a free market has a tendency to be color blind (although there are limits, e.g., The Dearborn Independent was also published by Ford). Also interesting, the fact that non-Jim Crow states, most interestingly, California and the North East (all 50 states in fact) had to be included. A less explored issue is apartheid restrictions on travel outside the deep South in this era.


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