Way Back When ... 1940
Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences bestowed the night’s biggest award, the Oscar for Best Picture, on the film “Green Book.”
“Green Book,” based on a true story, chronicles the relationship between an Italian-American bouncer who becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. The Green Book of the movie’s title was a guide used by people of color to help them find establishments including hotels, restaurants, service stations and more that would accept them in the segregated Jim Crow South.
According to History.com, “for nearly 30 years, a guide called the “Negro Motorist Green Book” provided African Americans with advice on safe places to eat and sleep when they traveled through the Jim Crow-era United States.”
The book was first published in 1936. “Though largely unknown to whites, it eventually sold upwards of 15,000 copies per year and was widely used by black business travelers and vacationers alike. In his memoir “A Colored Man’s Journey Through 20th Century Segregated America,” Earl Hutchinson Sr. described purchasing a copy in preparation for a road trip he and his wife took from Chicago to California.
“The Green Book was the bible of every Negro highway traveler in the 1950s and early 1960s,” he wrote. “You literally didn’t dare leave home without it.”
The Fairfield Museum has a copy of the 1940s edition of the “Negro Motorist Green-Book” that visitors can come see.
Learn more about this topic at History.com/news/the-green-book-the-black-travelers-guide-to-jim-crow-america.
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10am-4pm. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org. The Fairfield Museum relies on funding from individuals, corporations and foundations.