If not, thanks to Delegate Mike Mullin of Newport News, Delegate Jeion Ward of Hampton, and Virginia’s Governor, Glenn Youngkin, Virginians will soon know the Green Book and its relevance in our state.
If anyone was taught the Green Book in history, I personally want to commend those teachers. The way our ancestors dealt with our African American citizens is horrific, but it is important to know our history, so it never repeats itself.
Prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was dangerous for African Americans to travel in in many places in America. This included traveling through Virginia.
Mr. Green, a postal worker, having experienced embarrassment and degradation traveling from New York to Richmond, published the 15-page guide in what was called, “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” This book was a travel guide that identified safe businesses that African Americans could use such as: hotels, restaurants, drug stores and hair salons. The book also listed “sundown towns,” where African Americans could not be present after sundown. The first edition focused on Mr. Green’s home state of New York listing travel-related businesses in metropolitan New York City that African Americans could safely frequent.
It became so popular that Mr. Green reached out to the National Association of Letter Carriers to gather information from different areas around the country to include. In the second annual edition of the Green Book, published in 1937, safe taverns, nightclubs, tailors, barbershops, garages and gas stations were also included.
In Virginia, there is an estimated 315 sites where signs are going to be affixed to the bottom of pre-existing historical markers. When the signs go up, please lay a flower at the site in remembrance.