The Negro Motorist Green Book
The Negro Motorist Green Book highlights the history of “The Green Book,” the annual guide created in 1936 by Harlem postman Victor Green, that provided African American travelers with information on restaurants, gas stations, department stores and other businesses that welcomed Black travelers during the Jim Crow era.
Developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with award-winning author, photographer, and cultural documentarian, Candacy Taylor, Green Book offers an immersive look at the reality of travel for African Americans in mid-century America, and how the guide served as an indispensable resource for the nation’s rising African American middle class. In an era of Jim Crow laws and “sundown towns” – communities that explicitly prohibited African Americans from staying overnight – “The Green Book” offered critical, life-saving information and sanctuary.
The exhibition includes artifacts from business signs and postcards to historic footage, images, and firsthand accounts that illustrate not just the apprehension felt by African American travelers, but also the resilience, innovation, and elegance of people choosing to live a full American existence. It brings focus to a vibrant parallel world of African American businesses, the rise of the Black leisure class in the United States, and the important role “The Green Book” played in facilitating the second wave of the Great Migration.
The Negro Motorist Green Book was created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with Candacy Taylor and made possible through the generous support of Exxon Mobil Corporation.