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Film Screening of "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom"

National Archives at Kansas City

Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, 3700 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, MO
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


On Tuesday, November 12 at 6:00 p.m., the National Archives, in partnership with the Greater Kansas City Black History Study Group, American Jazz Museum, and Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, will host a screening of The Green Book: Guide to Freedom. This program will take place at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, 3700 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, MO. Reservations are requested for this free program.

In the 1930s, a black postal carrier from Harlem in Manhattan, New York City, named Victor Green published a book that was part travel guide and part survival guide. It was called The Negro Motorist Green Book, and it helped African Americans navigate safe passage across the United States well into the 1960s.

Throughout the early 20th century, African Americans who could, purchased vehicles as a means to avoid segregation on public transportation. In addition, post-World War II America provided an opportunity for the emergence of an African American middle class, which included car ownership. Jim Crow laws, particularly in the America South, created danger and inconvenience for many black travelers as public entities such as restaurants, hotels, motels, and gas station not only refused service, but could also create problems for travelers - including arbitrary arrest. To counter this, Green’s book included lists of services and places where weary travelers could stop to rest, eat, and service their car.

Green’s first book, published in 1936, was focused heavily on New York, but he quickly expanded it to include the entire United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Publication of the Green Book ceased shortly after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This 2019 Smithsonian-produced documentary explores some of the segregated nation's safe havens and whites-only "sundown towns" and witness stories of struggle and indignity as well as opportunity and triumph.




All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted.