The Negro Motorist Green Book
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana State Museum are proud to announce the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service's (SITES) exhibition "The Negro Motorist Green Book" will be on display at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge from August 21 – November 14, 2021. Capitol Park Museum will be the only museum in Louisiana where you can view this exhibition.
"The Green Book" was first created in 1936 by Harlem postman Victor Green. The annual travel guide, published until 1967, provided African American travelers with information on restaurants, gas stations, department stores, and other businesses that welcomed Black travelers during the era of Jim Crow laws and "sundown towns" – communities that explicitly prohibited African Americans from staying overnight. "The Green Book" offered critical, life-saving information, and sanctuary.
"The Negro Motorist Green Book" will offer an immersive look at the reality of travel for African Americans in mid-century America and how the annual guide served as an indispensable resource for the nation's rising African American middle class. The exhibition will include artifacts from business signs and postcards to historic footage, images, and firsthand accounts to convey not only the apprehension felt by African American travelers, but also the resilience, innovation, and elegance of people choosing to live a full American existence. It will bring focus to a vibrant parallel world of African American businesses, the rise of the black leisure class in the United States, and the important role "The Green Book" played in facilitating the second wave of the Great Migration.
Developed by SITES in collaboration with award-winning author, photographer, and cultural documentarian Candacy Taylor, "The Negro Motorist Green Book" is made possible through the support of the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
ExxonMobil predecessor Standard Oil Company of New Jersey played a significant role in the distribution of "The Green Book" through its U.S. network of Esso stations, helping to provide motorists and their families opportunities for safer and more comfortable travel. Esso stations were the only major retail distributors of "The Green Book." Esso also employed many African American engineers, scientists, and marketing executives, and welcomed African American motorists at its stations.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu.
ExxonMobil, one of the largest publicly traded international oil and gas companies, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world's growing energy needs. ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading inventory of resources, is one of the largest refiners and marketers of petroleum products, and its chemical company is one of the largest in the world.
Image Above: Four young African American women standing beside a convertible automobile, ca. 1958. Courtesy WANN Radio Station Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.