The Negro Motorist Green Book

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.”

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“Put me in, Coach. I’m ready to play today.”

I wasn’t born yet! (And I don’t say that often anymore.) So, although my parents were baseball nuts, I don’t remember the names of the 1919 White Sox, called the Black Sox, because they threw the World Series. But I do remember the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner’s character hears a voice in his cornfield demanding, “If you build it, he will come.” Passionate for the first time in his life, Costner builds a baseball field and waits. His reward is the arrival of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, a member of the Black Sox, back from the dead ready to play ball. Joe Jackson is joined by Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, “Swede” Risberg and other once great players whose names no one knows. Costner’s sense of awe and his appreciation for the skill of the early players grows with the arrival of each one of them. (My awe as to how they arrived from the dead was not part of the movie.)

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