Today, we jump to the 1930s, to an America recovering from one of it’s lowest time’s: The Great Depression only 10 years prior. The activist we will be learning about today is Victor Hugh Green born November 9, 1892, Manhattan, New York City.
Green was a postal employee and travel writer from Harlem, New York City. Arguably his most revolutionary and monumental written piece was The Green Book, a travel guide for African Americans in the United States. Green reviewed hotels and restaurants that did business with African Americans during the time of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the United States. He also collected information on hotels, restaurants and gas stations that served African Americans. Since some towns did not have any hotels or motels that would accept African American guests, he listed “tourist homes,” where owners would rent rooms to travelers. Green compiled all this travel information into a simple booklet that black families could bring with them as to not be harassed about segregation at in different institutions. As a black individual, he expresses his concerns in his book saying that “whether on business or pleasure, there was always trouble finding suitable accommodation in hotels and guest houses where he would be welcomed.” The was first published as The Negro Motorist Green Book and later as The Negro Travelers’ Green Book.
Green created a publishing office in Harlem to support his guide. In 1947 he established a Vacation Reservation Service, a travel agency to book reservations at black-owned establishments. By 1949 the guide included international destinations in Bermuda and Mexico; it listed places for food, lodging, and gas stations. In 1952 Green changed the name to The Negro Travelers’ Green Book.
Green printed 15,000 copies each year of The Green Book, marketing them to white as well as black-owned businesses to demonstrate “the growing affluence of African Americans. And the books stopped being published in 1966 because of the Civil Rights Act, that ended segregation, passed in 1964. There was really no need for his books anymore, and most black Americans already owned a copy.
Facing the harsh realities of Jim Crow in 1936, Victor H. Green made a constructive decision that he put into action for nearly 30 years: connect like-minded people by promoting safe and enjoyable travel for African-Americans throughout the United States, and eventually the world, by publishing travel guides. Green was a prominent figure and inspiration for black people in his time as he attracted blacks from across the country, and created means for Black Americans to feel safe and secure.