The place to go to for Black Historical past Month
For black drivers during the Jim Crow era, road trips were dangerous and complicated. For this reason, the Negro Motorist Green Book, which lists restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that welcome African Americans, came to be known as the “Bible of Black Travel.”
The guides published from 1936 to 1967 included more than 10,000 websites, but only about 3% have survived, says Candacy Taylor, author of Overground Railroad. And it’s important to visit her, she says. “It’s a chance to celebrate that they survived. Reliving history through space is a really powerful way to gain understanding. “
The New York Public Library digitized the guides, and Taylor’s book inspired a Smithsonian touring exhibit that ran through March 1 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, and then at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock, Arkansas has been.
Taylor shares some notable green book sites with USA TODAY.
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Dooky Chases Restaurant in New Orleans
Taylor calls this New Orleans restaurant the first black-owned fine-dining restaurant. It has served presidents and celebrities and is legendary for its gumbo and shrimp creole. “It’s an icon,” says the writer, who interviewed the late Leah Chase, who ran the restaurant with her husband. She later appeared in a Beyoncé video and was the inspiration for Princess Tiana in the Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog.
More info: dookychaserestaurants.com
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Gates Bar-BQ (formerly Gates Ol ‘Kentucky), Kansas City, Missouri
This mid-continent grill shop was one of the few chain restaurants in the Green Book with multiple offerings across town. It was founded by a railroad worker who wanted the stability of his own business. It was known for its flavorful tomato and molasses-based barbecue sauce. Now it is one of the leading suppliers in the city. “It speaks to the importance of black entrepreneurship,” says Taylor.
More info: Gatesbbq.com
Hampton House, Miami
This former motel, now a cultural center, played an important role in the civil rights movement. Here Martin Luther King Jr. gave an early version of his “I Have a Dream” speech and Malcolm X preached to boxer Cassius Clay, who soon changed his name to Muhammad Ali. The meeting and the hotel can be seen in a play and the new film “One Night in Miami”. “Really important things happened here,” says Taylor.
More info: historichamptonhouse.org
The Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, Virginia
This once separate auditorium was one of around 50 theaters included in the Green Paper. Today the restored building from 1931 is a landmark of the pedestrian zone in the city center of the university town. Tours visit the historic black entrance and separate balcony, but check the website for information on COVID-19 updates.
More info: theparamount.net
Pierre Hotel, New York
Not every Green Book location was hidden. This luxury hotel near Central Park has been frequented by Marilyn Monroe and countless other celebrities. “Most people assume that the Green Book had these repressed places,” says Taylor. “This is an example of the highest end.”
More info: tajhotels.com/en-in/taj/the-pierre-new-york
Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
National parks haven’t always been keen to welcome black travelers, says Taylor. But in 1952, the Green Paper began promoting the areas, which was a major shift for black travelers. “It was recreation; It was a real vacation, ”she says. The lodge in Crater Lake National Park is particularly noteworthy because Oregon began as a “white-only state”.
More info: travelcraterlake.com
R & R Liquors, Nashville, Tennessee
This black owned parcel store is famous in Nashville for its modern mid-century neon sign. The landmark exploded in a storm, but the store plans to rebuild it. The building was designed by the well-known black architect L. Quincy Jackson.
More info: visitmusiccity.com
Copper Queen Hotel, Bisbee, Arizona
Discrimination isn’t just limited to the deep south, says Taylor. “Most people assume the West was that liberated, and it really wasn’t.” This historic hotel in a former mining town was an African American paradise.
More info: kupferqueen.com
Rossonian Lounge, Denver
This former jazz nightclub in the Five Points neighborhood welcomed musicians stopping in Denver on their way west. Guests included Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Cab Calloway. According to Taylor, the distinctive architecture is similar to the New York Flatiron building. “We lost it almost often.”
More info: denverarchitecture.org/site/rossonian-hotel
Clifton’s Republic (formerly Clifton’s Cafeteria), Los Angeles
This downtown cafeteria at the end of Route 66 was run by a white man who was a former missionary who believed in welcoming all customers. Regulars included Walt Disney and science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. “It was a really important place,” says Taylor. Now called Clifton’s Republic, it’s temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
More info: theneverlands.com/cliftons-republic
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