through February 3, 2021
Started in 1936 by Harlem postman Victor Green, The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guide that helped African Americans travel the country safely, and with dignity, during a time of Jim Crow laws and segregation. The Green Book was also an indispensable resource for the era’s successful Black-owned businesses and rising African American middle class.
Step into the reality of mid-century travel for African Americans in this all-new immersive exhibition. In an era of Jim Crow laws and “sundown towns”—communities that explicitly prohibited African Americans from staying overnight—offered critical, life-saving information and sanctuary. The exhibition will not only highlight the success of many Black-owned businesses that made these journeys possible; it will offer viewers a chance to visually engage with the people who made the journeys.
"The Negro Motorist Green Book" exhibition includes film, photographs, art installations, interactives, oral histories from travelers and Green Book business owners; comparisons of Green Book sites then and now; historical objects from the Smithsonian and from Green Book sites, including a rare example of a Green Book, matchbooks, business signs, brochures, "sundown" signs, and historical documents.
The traveling exhibition is premiering at the Lorraine Motel, now operating as the National Civil Rights Museum, one of few Green Book sites remaining. The Negro Motorist Green Book was created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with Candacy Taylor and made possible through the generous support of Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Click here for the media release regarding the exhibition opening at the National Civil Rights Museum. Also see national release from exhibition partner, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Services (SITES) here. For media inquiries, click below.
The Negro Motorist Green Book exhibtion is at the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel, one of few Green Book sites remaining. (AP Photo)
Lorraine Motel owners Walter (standing) and Loree Bailey (seated left) enjoy a pool-side relaxation with a guest at their Green Book-listed business in the 1960s. (Courtesy of the Charles and Carolyn Champion Family)
Negro boys on Easter morning. Southside, Chicago, Illinois, 1941. Russell Lee. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Outdoor Photo of a Mother, Father and Child Standing by a Car / Rev. Henry Clay Anderson, 1940. © National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Four young African American women standing beside a convertible automobile, ca. 1958. WANN Radio Station Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
All-Negro Staff in Newark, N.J., station: Dudley Johnson, Manager, Marion T. White, Arthur Smith and Leonard S. Coleman. Courtesy of Anthony M. Smith, Sr.