Reflections on Selma and the Green Book

Today we heard the President say in Selma that our march is not yet over. It was interesting to see him standing in front of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which we also visited on our Civil Rights trip on October 4, 2013. One of the outcomes of that trip was that E and I started a collection of children’s books that tell parts of the Civil Rights story. One of our books is called Ruth and the Green Book, written by Calvin Alexander and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. It tells the story of a little girl whose family went on a road trip from Chicago to Alabama in the 1950’s. Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.27.03 PM As they traveled they ran into problems with Jim Crow, until eventually they were able to get a copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book. It was a guide that told them safe places to stay, to eat, to get supplies, and a variety of other things while on the road. When it was originally published in 1936, this book gave information about places in New York City. Eventually it was expanded to give information in all 50 states. It became an indispensable travel guide for African-American travelers. I found a copy of it online here. I was particularly interested in this quote from the introduction: “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.”

The Negro Motorist Green Book was last published in 1964. Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.27.39 PM