The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, a division of the North Carolina Arts Council, has received a $148,450 grant from the national Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for its project "Green Books’ Oasis Spaces: African American Travel in NC, 1936-1966.” This initiative will educate communities across the state about strategies used by African Americans to navigate systemic segregation during the Jim Crow era.
“The Negro Motorist Green Book” (the “Green Book”) was an annual guidebook for African-American travelers, published from 1936 - 1966, to help them avoid business owners who refused to serve them. The guidebook compiled listings of “oasis spaces,” welcoming hotels, restaurants, auto repair shops, gas stations and other businesses from throughout most of the U.S. and even parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Today, many of these safe spaces have been lost to urban renewal and sites still standing are rarely recognized for the important role they played.
Using IMLS grant funds, the commission will spearhead a project to create an online database of these sites, facilitate community discussions and develop a travelling exhibit to highlight the history of the Green Book.
“This project will preserve and honor the resilience of previous generations of African Americans," said Michelle Lanier, director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. “There is a need for greater understanding and appreciation of these historical sites so a more complete picture of the past emerges and the important remains of that past can be better preserved. We are so appreciative of IMLS for supporting this critical project.”
Preliminary research of Green Book sites has been conducted by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office with the support of North Carolina State University's Department of History. IMLS funds allow staff to complete the mapping of North Carolina’s Green Book sites by identifying the status of all sites, writing brief entries on each location and presenting them to the public via a web portal. A portion of site entries will include essays, photos, news articles and other records. Curriculum correlate