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The Green Book

Technically, the Jim Crow Period was from 1867-1877. It was a time when federal laws provided protection of civil rights for former slaves and free blacks. However, through the 1870s as the Southern economy continued to tank and white Southern Democrats* took over power in Southern legislatures, a darker turn was made. Those legislatures began passing more restrictive voter registration and electoral laws, as well as passing legislation to segregate blacks and whites. To suppress black voters, many areas resorted to intimidation tactics that ranged from general bullying to violence and sometimes death. These tactics continued into the 1900s.

Up until the 1950s-60s Civil Rights movements that culminated in massive changes in law and society, there were places that black Americans would not be safe. Seeing a need to help, Victor Green wrote his first "Negro Motorist Green Book" [The Green Book] to help his fellow African-Americans avoid very real obstacles prevalent during travel in the 1930's. Green felt it would serve a temporary need until "we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges."

The Green Book not only provided safe places for travel, dining and lodging; it also made lodging reservations for clients. Green himself did not live to see his last edition published in 1964 as he died in 1960. In 1956 the creation of a national highway system diminished the need for The Green Book because highways minimized contact with local communities, thus decreasing chances for discrimination and other problems.

*NOTE: Both political parties of that period in time were not what they are in more recent decades.

SOURCES: The Green Book, Vernon E. Jordan Law Library, Howard University ThoughtCo


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