Victor Green, a mail carrier in New York City, began publishing The Negro Motorist Green Book in 1937. He saw the need for a guidebook to help African-Americans safely navigate the country during Jim Crow segregation. Over time, people referred to the pamphlet simply as The Green Book, both for its publisher’s name and its distinctive green cover. The first volume listed New York sites only, but within ten years the publication included 46 states. By 1967, the final year of publication, the guide covered the entire United States, as well as several foreign destinations. Surprisingly, at least to me, the Esso (Standard Oil) Corporation supported The Green Book by selling it in their gas stations. Esso was one of the few gas stations that sold gas to African-Americans. Green was an optimist, writing in the 1948 issue:
“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.”
Partly due to its centralized location along the mid-Atlantic coast, the Commonwealth of Virginia maintains a major presence in The Green Book from 1938 to 1964. In addition to its centralized location, Virginia features multiple recreational and cultural amenities. From the beaches of the Tidewater area to the Appalachian Mountains to the rich historical sites scattered throughout the state, Virginia offers something for everyone. The map below delineates all Virginia sites listed in The Green Book.
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