Exhibit on Green Book guide used by African-Americans for safe travel on display at N.C. Museum of Transportation

Published 12:05 am Saturday, February 4, 2023

SPENCER — During the Jim Crow era, African Americans who wanted to take a vacation throughout the country were faced with legal segregation and racial discrimination from white-owned restaurants, businesses, nightclubs and hotels, making it difficult and potentially perilous for road-trippers to travel safely.

To combat the racism and discrimination, travel writer Victor Hugo Green published an annual guidebook called “The Negro Motorist Green Book” featuring services and lodging that were safe for African Americans and other non-whites to visit. It was first conceived by Green in 1932 when he was working in New York City as a mail-man and travel agent.

The guide was first published in 1936 and was focused only on safe locations in New York for travelers. Over the years, Greene expanded to cover most of North America, including much of the United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and Bermuda. He asked readers to send in safe places they had heard of or had visited. In North Carolina, there were 327 businesses that were listed in the guide, according to North Carolina State Historic Sites.

Safety Taxi, located at 226 E. Fisher St. in Salisbury, is one of five North Carolina businesses in the Green Book that still exists, according to previous Post reporting. Dalton’s Lunch, which was located at 128 N. Lee St, was another Salisbury location in the guide, but has since gone out of business.

In honor of Black History Month, the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission has “created a traveling exhibit about sites important to, and personal memories about, African American travel using “The Negro Motorist Green Book” during the Jim Crow era of legal segregation.” The commission collected oral histories in 2018 and 2019 to tell the stories of those featured on the exhibit.

Now on display at the North Carolina Museum of Transportation, “Navigating Jim Crow: The Green Book and Oasis Spaces in North Carolina Exhibit” displays eight panels with historic and present-day pictures of Green Book sites in North Carolina. It also showcases words of African-American travelers who used the guide and descendants of business owners featured in the guide.

The exhibit will be displayed surrounded by vehicles and back drops of the time period and is located in the museum’s “Bumper to Bumper” exhibit. It will be on display until the end of February.

The museum’s admission price of $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and military, and $4 for children 3-12.  Ages 2 and under are free.