America was a dangerous place when Jim Crow mandates ruled the land. Laws separated blacks and whites, the KKK was alive and well, and lynchings were far too common. One white woman’s lie even started the 1923 Rosewood Massacre – an event that completely destroyed the lives of many black citizens. Racial discrimination after the Civil War was so severe and potentially life-threatening for blacks that Victor Green developed a book that helped navigate the racist waters.
Green’s original 1936 Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual pamphlet that focused on safe spaces in New York City, but it eventually expanded to include the whole country. The innovative work suggested travel destinations and establishments that weren’t racist so that African Americans could avoid the danger and humiliation that were often (and sometimes still are) unfortunate realities of black life in the United States.