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201- The Green Book redux

2018-11-20 | 🔗

The new film “Green Book” is rolling out across the country. I have not seen the film, so I can’t speak to its merits or shortcomings, but while people are possibly being introduced to the concept of the Green Book for the first time, we thought we’d re-release this story from a few years ago about the origin and significance of the Green Book: the Negro Motorists’ Travel Guide to the segregated US.

As a special bonus to our story, we also have a Green Book story from Nate DiMeo of the memory palace. Nate had coincidentally written his episode called “Open Road” and we both released them without having heard the other. I think hearing them one after the other is real treat.

The Green Book

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars the new film green book is rolling out across the country and I have not. The film, so I can't speak to its merits or its shortcomings, but while people, possibly being introduced the concept of green book for the first time we we'd. We release this story from a few years ago about the origin and significance of the green book. The Negro motorists travel guide to the second gated. U S is amazing story and one of my all time, favorites was a special bonus in this episode will also be playing a green book story from Nate DE male of the memory palace need Coincidentally written his memory, palace episode called open road about the green book and we both release them without having heard the other- and I think, hearing them one after another, the real, it highlights our shows similarities
differences in our approach to a subject. It makes me very happy to share them together today. I hope you, like it This is the american dream on wheels. An automotive age. Travelling on saving superhighways future, Nineteen forties fifties and Sixtys were the golden age of road travel. Cars have become cheap in room enough to carry families comfortably for hundreds of miles.
The interstate highway system had started to connect the country smaller roads into a vast nation, wide network. Finally, tourists could make their way from New York to California, with the windows down and the wind in their hair. Seeing the grandeur of America alone, we have become a nation on the wheel, with law arise mobility than ever dreamed of This freedom and mobility was an available to everyone. A thirteen year ended her splash of cold water, the Lady Hall, because in nineteen fifty six year that federal funding made the interstate highway system possible, Jim Crow was still the law of the land in the south. Racial segregation was enforced by law and been sent shortly after reconstruction. In many
parts of the north, the goods were enforced in practice and these codes could make a simple road trip really complicated for black travellers. This is not a good level. I saw you picking me up well there. This is kurdish graves, My name is Curtis Graves and I'll outline. Nineteen, thirty eight. So I'm a little older than most of the people who are listening to this court eventually become a Texas state representative, and then you go on to work at NASA and then he'd become a photographer, but as a kid he grew in the segregated south. And for many years his parents trade The shield him from that reality are often said: the Balkans, Then father, whether best liars that I knew, for instance, we sat in the back of a bus because it was cooler there we roll, the funnel train, because you could get off quicker
Stan upstairs in the movie, because you had better seats in upstairs of Christ, that ruse couldn't last and by the time Curtis was a college senior in Houston, Texas. In the mid nineteen fifties he fully aware of what it meant to be a black person living under Jim Crow, theirs experience in particular that stands out in his mind. He was just twenty one years old and getting ready to drive to a college meeting in Waco about three hours northwest of Houston. He degree to take a couple of acquaintances. They have to be white women. I said to myself: I might be in for some difficult times here, but you know I had to so John to get away Curtis had to drive to a stretch of east taxes that was notorious in those decades for racial violence. Oh yeah, those communities were pretty bad around the travellers got hungry, so they pulled over at a roadside diner.
Soon as we get in the front door, the guys I'm sorry, but you can't come in here. We Sir black people at all, the three of them went back outside an Curtis devised, a plan they try another restaurant rate. The street. To them. The two of you go and get a table, and after seated and the waiter waitress comes up to you tell them that you have a boy, that's driving you and You want to know whether he can you can bring a man to eat, so the woman walked inside and they asked the Waitress if Curtis could come inside to join them in lady should, of course, no problem at all. So as long as I was there boy and their driver. I could eat with them at a table. A strong if I were equal to them, I could not
this kind of humiliation on the road was routine and had been going on for decades. Many people road into the and c p around this time, describing exe it is just like courtesy to whom I am concerned before starting a recent vacation trip to several used instead. Dear sir, I am a member of the endeavour, lay C p a call I would like to report. An incident occurred. On January. First, at a golf service station in making Georgia life. When I went to the reference to refresh ourselves, then found a vacant table two minutes past and no one came to service. He informed me that the rescue for the color was in the back. It seems to me dealers should not be permitted. Sale, gas and oil and not provide these come. For us. Our son Some travellers would drive all night instead of trying to find lodging in an unfamiliar and possibly dangerous town. They packed pay Next, they didn't have to stop for food. Somebody
would even carry portable toilets in the trunks of their cars, no that there is a good chance. They be turned away from roadside restrooms that, since one thousand eight hundred and thirty six, a guy named Victor Hugo Green I've, been trying to help with some of these problems to make life easier for thousands of black motorists stayed by. I ve been putting together a travel guide with listings of restaurants, hotels and service stations. That would welcome african american travellers. He called the Negro Motorist Green Book, the green book for short, Victor's Green who died in nineteen. Sixty lived in Harlem New York during the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Parliament was not far from Duke Ellington his office. Would actually be situated near smallest paradise, a famous nightclub, Victor didn't have the most obvious background for starting a travel guide anymore, tourism. He was a writer
He was a mailman in Hackensack New Jersey, but he kept green stories about discrimination on the road. So he would go? Do his Ralph and Hackensack Majority Comeback homework on a green book at night compiling these addresses typing them up and put them in they before this Calvin, Alexander Ramsay playwright author filmmaker and years ago. Calvin started researching the history of the green book. He learned that the green wasn't really the first guide of its kind, in fact Victor have gotten the idea from jewish travellers, because the jewish community is also having issues The open road was allowed to play The saying restricted- and I was code word for Gentiles- only- when Victor published his first green book, it just cover New York, and he heard for
country from other carriers and other people saying we really need this nation wide, but it wasn't that easy to gather information from across the country. Back then long distance phone calls were expensive and that Calvin says is when after green realised, that being? A male man was his secret superpower. There were Ask American let it carries on United States at this time. We talk about nineteen, thirty six, and so he about you know them. It ensures that the male men have with their homeowners. Apartment dwellers, delivering their mail so dislike today, The man is part of the community, so Calvin Suspect captain to this network spreading the heard about his guide through the National Alliance of postal and federal employees. A letter carrier Union Calvin, his postal workers across the country, scouted potential green book locations and their cities and towns he's Some even asked families they delivered to if they'd be opened, a hosting try.
Blair's in their homes and the agreed. Then, they were Cindy information to victory. Green in Harlem Victor able to get a feel for us. That carriers who are all over the country who acquire mature rules and names and addresses and businesses for him. Where were you the blackmail man you had agreed look salesman or recruiter. Be quickly. The green book caught on businesses many blacker and began getting in touch with actor, hoping to we're ties in hoping to be listed black newspeak, First signed on his sponsors Victor he retired from his job as a letter carrier and started working on the guide full time even Bend and affiliated travel agency that help too. Arrange trips, but still there The challenge of distribution how'd it. The guide into the hands of travellers who needed it,
happened in a few ways the United States Travel Bureau signed on to help out, and then there were the more informal networks. Well, churches importers, the urban INDIGO Cp, the Masonic lodges there, was a very wide, varied distribution process in place for these green books, There was an important corporate sponsor to a big one. Is that it comes but there's a marvel every mile at the Essen makes they monitoring, and so also known as standard oil and now known as excellent mobile, was one of them. The oil companies back then than actively pursued black customers, they franchise their stations to african american operators and they had a black Representative on staff Jane billboard Jackson, who helped plays green, in many of those stations as well
As the white on once also They have done this out of a sense of fairness and equality, Dundee Rockefeller, who fell did standard oil in eighteen, seventy had married into affair only of abolitionists who were part of the UN, ground, railroad and he'd voted for Abraham, Lincoln back in the day, but also probably did it for other reason to money honey to do with money. Remember curtain who had the crappy experience striving across EAST Texas, his dad operated. One of the first black owned associations in New Orleans where Curtis was born and raised. It was called See and buddies the I'm a logic of stocking. The green book was pretty simple. He sets if you want to buy your fuel one. Should give them an opportunity to see that they can travel and fine places to stay while there on the road travelling so courtesies, dad kept a shelf of Green Box for his customers.
You love somebody came in and said ah buddy, I'm I'm thinking about taken Chicago. My dad would say well, Do you know where to start between here and Chicago am person would say no say we're here? The green book will tell you any gave you a sense of sick already in through the green book, came to cover listings in all fifty states and even some locations in Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. They printed about food. Eighteen thousand copies better green, had changed travel for thousands of african american tourists? He wrote in a nineteen fifty six introduction to the guide. Now things are different. The negro traveller depend on the green book for all the information he wants This guide has made travelling more popular without encountering embarrassing situations. As a subordinate struggle continued. Some people began to
question the value of the green book, a black people. Many of them began to feel that this was accommodating to Jim Crow Susan Who is a professor of history at Brigham, Young University and she said The green book begin to seem a little out of step with the times it rarely took on and overtly political town, especially in its early days, and there were act the other black travel guides published around the same time, the dead one travel guide. For instance, travel guide listed where the and W C p chapters were in each city. They were my more attuned with civil rights, much more political town Essentially, the end of a lazy p made it clear. In the end, a boy cp said what worse I mean for worth striving for integration and so that their stand. In the end, doubly c p built a lot of their push for the nineteen sixty four civil Rights ACT, which outlaw discrimination based on race and ended Jim Crow.
Around this idea of total integration. In fact, and Tbilisi P testified during the debate over the bill they drew all those waters they received about discrimination on the road. They appeal that vision of the iconic family, road trip of the freedom to explore America by car, Roy Wilkins The executive secretary of the underbelly cp, spoke before this. And its commerce committee in nineteen sixty three assumes Congress out there all gonna head into their station wagons and go back to their home district, its July in Washington. It's really hard We can thus the Senate to imagine what it might be like to travel as a black person. Would you you and your family eat: where can they use a restroom? Can you stop drive? hey behind the wheel, or must you drive until you reach a city where relatives are friends? Will a comment you and your
Can you stop driving after reasonable day behind the wheel or must draw I ve been till you reach a city where relative your friends will accommodate you and yours for the night. Will you don't be denied a soft drink or an ice cream com. Because they are not white. Please appear into them in their at the most basic level of their own love for their own family and Susan thinks this may have been one of the things that helped pass. The bill by framing the narrative of civil rights as a threat only travel narrative, they were able to convince the senators to vote for the bill nineteen sixty four President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill into law, our skies weeping,
we'll ever to be written into the law and thus reaffirms that conception of equality for all men that began with Lincoln and the civil war. One hundred years ago a negro won his freedom. Then his dignity, now the civil right struggle was not over then and still not over today, but for Victor Green. It became clear at some point that his green book had a limited shelf life here. In the introduction to one of his guides, there will be a day sometime in the near future. This God will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges United States ensure enough two years after the Civil Rights ACT passed, the green book published its last addition. So actually could you just described by. We are wear the. Public library downtown the central branch in LOS Angeles and outward
in the bowels for floors down under around and history and genealogy department, and you have a stack of books there in front of you what do they are green Box there little jewels. I mean I just buzz with this kind of good energy that I just feel like all my god there actually here, it's amazing to me Can they see? Taylor is a photographer and a cultural Documentarily in the guide she's holding small, maybe eight inches by five inches They have green covers each with a different destination featured and there are poor. Judges and pages of listings inside their war, beauty, parlors barbershops Taylor worse taverns there were night clubs, it was really is Social Network. It was anything you might want to do in that town and the resources that are available to you,
can they has been travelling the country documenting old queen? but quotations from California to Oklahoma to New Mexico. Many us how are now run by people who don't know much if anything the police. As history, Some of the buildings are gone and what's left is just an empty lot or a patch of grass. Even these original copies of the guide are rare. Now, Smithsonian bought one at auction recently for twenty two thousand. Five hundred dollars, wow. Yes, it's a look in your a fearless neat, and you know your parents lived during Jim Crow look in your annex and see you might have twenty plus awesome dollar guide you never know Twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money, but
back in nineteen thirty six, when the green book first appeared and could be purchased for zero dollars and twenty five cents by the travelers who needed it, the most it was arguably worth even more thanks back story with the american history. Guys for the recordings of the letters to the end of waste should be read by Elisa, stood Stephen Tolliver endlessly Telefonica and our lesson to play the part of Victor green things, up The two Orlando Gonzalez at the National Association of Letter carriers in a key at the National Alliance of Postal in federal employees,
We have another take on the green book from Nate tomatoes. The memory palace that you will not want to miss stay with us. We often don't think of winter as a dynamic growth or creation. But if you think about it, it's the perfect time to greet your own website gives recouped job you're, thinking about being productive and now square space can help you do it with Squares Bates. You can take your cool ideas, you ve creative content, your services, goods, and you can turn them into a beautiful website in just a few clicks. Does it because there is to use temple?
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you're about to hear why made is the best writer in podcasting and the memory palace is a job This is the memory boss, a man The couple uncover ready for the room he Square John unstrapping she's, pretty smiling what carries both their suitcases, because it's one thousand nine hundred and forty eight and he's a gentleman and he's dressed like one talk to her pocket square. The door at a jaunty angle, she's got her hair done waves with curls beneath her son ass tat. The couple there on the cover of the nineteen forty eight edition of the Negro motorists green the very picture of a particular kind of african american aspiration at centre. In somewhere in those suitcases or in her clutch,
or in a glove box in the bigger dash Pontiac or their packard is a book. The slim paperback thirty forty pages, a guide for african american travellers. For the lucky rare few, who only comment there. They are on the current this handsome couple drawn in black and white walking offer in their suburban home to look for America comforted by that guy book published each year since one thousand nine hundred and thirty six by the victory Green Company of Harlem. In order to give it says the Negro travel. Information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and other understatements. The couple will use it to navigate postwar pre, highway United States to keep themselves safe and alive and their own car free from the cruelties of segregated public.
Rotation of colored. Only waiting rooms, the backs of buses they'll, be in the front seat of their own car, their own gas pedal their own steering wheel on the open road, the radio on searching for their song, their music in the open air. It might catch a voice coming through the static. The rhythm carried on invisible waves from some rooftop transmitter indicator for Memphis I'm disappears in the rear view and then coming in clear and strong. Now, as they come out of the truce as the road rises through the alleghanies or is the round the bend in the air as well the windows warm on their eyes in the light, is worn in tangerine,
flashing on the surface of the snake river. For the national bodies with the locks, a hatchet driving off too knows granting Tots Liberty Hall, the fear Lakes Beale Street Desert in their own car, somewhere right then sell Paradise indeed, Moriarty round the room somewhere nothin admin, was shown in executive pitch that would put a car in every garage. Some auto company lobbyist was showing some send just where the freeways would run one day through which unwanted neighborhoods knowing him how those three ways with free us all how we rode to see the USA in everywhere adventure in whatever comes our way,
Milwaukee to Minneapolis in four and one slash two hours coast to coast in four and a half days, a nation transformed the people on the move, its great cities, its natural wonders. It's amber waves at Purple majesty reach unlimited possibilities. Were the couple on the cover drover at them with the sun hunger, as their stations started deposit, the edges, the book said they could go to Oakland. Stay at the worn hotel on six aided the crescent infringe Maryland, see the Grand Canyon get a drink, gills, grill and Elizabethtown, but they should stop and shall be Montana. There were no negroes there. They should probably say Their delivering the car to its white owners if they get pulled over outside Lafayette, should steer clear of whole cities altogether. The sun downtowns there were all white by law. By night,
there will be a day the Negro Motors Rulebook says in the near future, when it won't have to be published. But until that time there was the book and the cup of earnest car is. The sun goes down in the road stretches out in summer. Bugs flash white in the headlines in the signal fades probably out for good this time, and we hope the gas holds out till Topeka. There's a place called powers, the Green book says didn't get service there, and then they should be able to make it to Wichita. The pact in a food I wouldn't have to risk stopping to eat might be better to sustain Topeka by the time they get their book says, there's a hotel there where there should be ok, it might just be better play it safe and they drove on.
In the moon rose over an open field. Another take on the green book from the memory palace. If you somehow neglected, subscribing to the memory palace heretofore. I actually kind of envy you because you have one hundred and thirty four episodes of short beautiful. Resting history stories. Waiting for you, but eight life changing show this- should be your Thanksgiving Holiday Entertainment, shot gun in the memory Palace episode, They demand has been making the memory palace for ten years and it represents the best of the medium so subscribed. The episodes. Tell your friends. I love see it reach ten times as many people it deserves it. I'm a link in the show notes many I presented visible was produces week by Delaney home. The recipe is senior producer, Katy Mingle, Digital
circles that every government tree views Fitzgerald Sean Rio Libyan Lee, Joe Rosenberg Terran Massa hand me roman Mars. We are Ninety one point: seven Kalw in W in San Francisco, produced on radio row in beautiful, downtown Oakland California,. Learning represented buzz war is a founding member of Radio Tokyo from Pierre acts of fiercely independent, collective of the most innovative shows in all podcasting fun, mom, radio, Tokyo, Donovan, You can find a show in during discussions about the show on Facebook and Twitter me Aroun Mars, and the show Inane IP org one instrument tumblr and where the two, but if you want over three Hundred other episodes of ninety nine percent, invisible, plus links and pictures of the green book look no further than our beautiful beautiful website, its name p. I dot org.
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.