During the 20th century, the United States of America was not an easy place to be for African Americans. Segregation existed for much of the century and black citizens were forced to go out of their way to ensure they followed unjust laws which rendered them second class citizens. As you can imagine, travelling was much more dangerous for black Americans that for whites, and there were plenty of areas which were to be avoided at all costs.
In order to aid black motorists, Victor Hugo Green published a series of books called The Negro Motorist Green Books, which were more commonly refereed to simple as ‘Green Books’. These books were sold in gas stations and informed black travelers where they would be able to find places that welcomed business from African Americans who wanted to to sleep, eat, and shop. As we recently reported, the first Green Book was published in 1936 and more followed until segregation, for the most part, came to an end in the late 60s.
If you’re intrigued by that period of history, and by how these handy books served such a useful purpose, then you may want to check out an upcoming film that is inspired by the Green Books, and is based upon a real story about a white driver who drove a black pianist on a tour that went through the deep South. Called Green Book, the film stars Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, House of Cards) and Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings, Captain Fantastic) as they play two characters who end up as unlikely friends.
“Green Book was a project that I kept thinking about after I had read it,” Ali said. “If you look at these two archetypes [in films], it’s so often the black guy is serving as some sort of grounding force and reality check who’s coming from a low-income or working class environment, for the wealthier, more affluent character… I really responded to the fact that it was flipped on its head the way that it was, and the fact that it was based on a real relationship.”
Green Book is set to be released later this year on November 21.