Black travelers at the end of the Great Depression had to worry about driving safely to their destination, and a whole lot more.
“You didn’t know if people would be hostile to you,” said Gwen Whiting, lead curator of the Washington State Historical Society.
Whiting said it was common for Black travelers to pack what was called a shoe box lunch, a cooler packed with food for the journey — not for snacking.
“You didn’t know if anyone would allow you to sit down and eat, or even allow you in the gas station and get food or get gas for the journey,” she explained. “It was that level of discrimination we’re talking about.”
That was what Victor Green and his wife Alma encountered when they traveled during that era. When he talked to friends and family, he found out they experienced discrimination on the road, too. So the couple published The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide that listed gas stations, hotels, and restaurants that were safe places for Black travelers.