Segregated Travel Guides Published in the Last Century for African-American Travellers are Being Republished

By December 19, 2017 New Releases, News, Political

The Negro Motorist Green Books were a series of travel guides published by postal worker Victor Hugo Green from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, when civil rights laws brought about an end to legal segregation. The books informed travellers as to where they could find places that would allow black people to sleep, eat, and shop. The books went out of publication after the 60s and were all but forgotten about, until they were recently rediscovered and reprinted for modern readers.

The first Green Book was published in 1936 and served to help black travelers in the United States find services that would be open to them and also advised on the accepted custom for black people in different areas. The book’s tagline, “Carry your Green Book with you … you may need it,” serves as both good advice and as a warning of the intolerance of many white people.

As The Guardian reports, The Green Books were particularly useful to young, middle-class African-Americans who had the money to travel but were still faced with segregation laws that prevented them from being able to stay in certain hotels and frequent certain restaurants. A publisher at About Comics in California, named Nat Gertler, has just republished the 1947 edition of the Green Book guide, with the 1940, 1954 and 1963 having been republished earlier. The books have been a tremendous hit and have sold over 10,000 copies via online sales and sales from gift shops such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and the National Civil Rights Museum Memphis, Tennessee.

“The reaction to the book is very, very good … and when you can hand one to someone directly, it’s amazing. Unless they’re an older person of colour who lived through the era, they probably heard about this sort of segregation in school – at least, I hope they did – but that was as a very abstract thing. When they get their hands on a Green Book, you can see a dawning cross their face, because it really depicts a practical reality,” said Gertler.

“The heart of the book is a fairly short list of places where black people could have stayed. You look up your home town, and maybe there’s no places listed, or maybe there’s three … and two of them are ‘tourist homes’, basically the Airbnb of the day, private residences that would rent you one of their rooms to crash for the night. There’s this certain expectation that the book might be filled with angry polemics about how unfair this all is, or explaining why this guide was needed, but there’s little of that. The person buying this understood very well what the situation was, they were living it every day. So there were things like Victor Green writing about how he expected that some day this guide would no longer be needed – he didn’t live to see that day, alas – but for the bulk of the book it is just practical information, listings and ads.”

Gertler explained that he heard about the Green Books a few years ago, saying: It “piqued my interest particularly because, while I’m not a person of colour myself, my beloved stepmother is half-black, half-Cherokee. And I’d talked with her about what it was like travelling the US under segregation. She’d be on a trip with people from her school, and while all the white girls would stay at a hotel in town, she’d have to find a special place outside the city limits that would take her.”

Gertler didn’t think he’s have trouble finding a copy, but they proved to be quite rare. “You figure, hey, they printed piles of these things, it shouldn’t be too hard – but of course these were disposable, practical items … So copies are rarely available, and when they are, they’re thousands of dollars. These are museum items,” he said.

Green Books were originally sold at service stations across the country or could be ordered by via mail. The fuel station company Esso was well known for stocking copies of the book as it was one of the few fuel companies that was willing to serve African Americans.

One of the original guides features a forward from Green which reads: “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.” Unfortunately, Green never lived to see this day and died in 1960, four years before The Civil Rights Act was passed.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Finally has a Release Date

By | Children's Literature, New Releases | No Comments
When the Harry Potter illustrated series by Jim Kay was first announced we were promised a book a year, making buying Christmas presents very easy! However, when it came to the Autumn of 2018 it was announced that there would be no Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated in time for Christmas.

Rumour was that Jim Kay was struggling to finish in time, given the length of the later books. If true it’s not great news as it means that it’s likely to be an ongoing problem as the books get longer.

Read More

Salman Rushdie to Publish Don Quixote Inspired Novel

By | New Releases | No Comments
Salman Rushdie is to publish a Don Quixote inspired novel later this year. Quichotte is inspired by the Miguel de Cervantes classic text and tells the story of an ageing travelling salesman who falls inn love with a TV star and sets off across America on a quest to prove himself worthy.

Based on the classic novel, it’s a story of a derange time, relationships, racism, and even the end of the world. Bea Hemming from Vintage publishing described the novel as “Quichotte sees Salman Rushdie at the height of his powers. Intricately plotted, wildly original, tender, comic and deeply moving, Quichotte is both an ingenious homage to Cervantes and a book that speaks urgently to our unstable times.”

Read More

Peaky Blinders Tie-In Book Coming

By | New Releases | No Comments
Later this year comes the fifth series of The Peaky Blinders to the BBC, the much loved show based on gang activity in the early 20th Century. Earlier in the run we brought you a blog featuring books that you’d love if you love the Peaky Blinders, including some non-fiction reading about the time the show is based around and now comes the news that the first tie-in book for the series is coming in the Autumn.
Read More

Handmaid’s Tale Graphic Novel Coming Very Soon

By | New Releases | No Comments
Later this month a graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale will be released. Canadian artist Renee Nault has been working on this visual representation of the classic for the last four years and the book will be released in hardback on 26th March with pre-orders available on the link at the bottom of this piece.

The new book is released “With the aim of making this edition a standalone work of art, she has brought Atwood’s terrifying modern classic to vivid life as never before,” said the publisher Jonathan Cape for the UK release, while Doubleday will publish the US version of the graphic novel.

Read More

Two Tie-In Books Coming for Good Omens Adaptation

By | Adaptations, New Releases | No Comments
You can’t have failed to hear the news that Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, has been adaptation by the BBC and Amazon Studios. Neil Gaiman is heavily tied in with the production so we have high hopes for the adaptation, and today we’ve heard the news that there are two tie-in books coming to accompany the new series.

Good Omens will air on Amazon Prime Video on 31st May 2019, announced just last week along with the opening credits and some news from the adaptation, and now fans will be able to get their hands on two companion books in time for release.

Read More



Leave a Reply