âAfrican-American travelers in areas outside of the South, including California, needed the guidance of the Green Book,â said Amanda Meeker of the California Museum.
During the The Jim Crow era, black people used the paperback to find safe and friendly housing across the country. The travel guide listed establishments that served black people, such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other accommodations.
Discriminatory laws and practices made travel unsafe for people of color. Along the country’s highways, black travelers have been routinely denied access to basic essential services, according to Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).
While traveling, it was dangerous for people of color to stop in an unfamiliar location. They were at risk of racist humiliation, threats and violence.
âVisitors may be surprised to learn that African American travelers in areas outside of the South, including California, need the guidance of the Green Book,â said Amanda Meeker, executive director of the California Museum. âThe Green Paper has really helped people navigate and enjoy everything America has to offer for everyone. But we still have a ways to go.â
Victor Green, a black postman, entrepreneur and innovator, created the Green Book using contacts in the US Postal Service. According to the NMAAHC, Green also used feedback from traveling salespeople and business owners to complete the list of establishments in the book. He teamed up with the Standard Oil Company to distribute the book to Esso gas stations.
The Green Book was published from 1936 to 1966. In the 1952 edition, eleven establishments are listed in the Sacramento area book, including the historical The Dunlap Dining Room at Oak Park.
As part of the exhibit at the California Museum, Sacramento’s connection to the Green Book is highlighted through an additional exhibit of artifacts, images, and memorabilia.
âWe are honored to present this important exhibition and to highlight the local businesses listed in the Green Paper,â said Meeker. “Our additional exhibit adds to the national exhibit with historical artifacts and images from the dining room at Oak Park Dunlap Restaurant, as well as Mo-Mo and Zanzibar nightclubs, where black and white Sacramentians have come together to hear jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Charles Mingus. “
The exhibition was created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service (SITES) with author Candacy Taylor and sponsored by Exxon Mobil Corporation.
It will be on display at the California Museum from December 4 to February 27, as an exclusive stop in Northern California on a nationwide tour through 2024.
For more information, visit the California Museum website.
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