My friend Earl just sent me a fascinating e-mail. I have a copy of the 1949 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book. It is part of the Henry Ford Collection. The purpose: “Since 1936 it has been our idea to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trips more enjoyable….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. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.”
The book, forty-three pages, has entries about businesses that will welcome Negroes in each of the 48 states (Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states), by city. There are also entries for Bermuda, Canada, Mexico and Alaska. For instance, in Pocatello, Idaho, under Tourist Homes there is an AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Parsonage and a tourist park both on Fremont Street. No restaurants are listed, no museums, no beauty parlors or gas stations, no hotels, tailors or drug stores.
Negroes were not welcomed in most of the businesses across the country. This guide helped people meet their needs with dignity and safety.