The Green Book - Opening New Insights Into History
I recently did a post about movies that I was interested in seeing. Most of them are family friendly films that have been highly advertised via social media. Not having cable at the house keeps me out of the loop for television commercials; I only see the ones that are repeated on the channel we have on our lobby television at work. It was here that I saw a commercial for The Green Book and felt that I needed to discuss it.
The Green Book, arriving in theaters November 16, explores the journey and eventual friendship of a Jamaican pianist and a body guard/driver from New York City as they tour the Deep South on a concert tour in 1962. As the year the movie takes place may suggest, the main conflict of the film surrounds racism and segregation during the heat of the Civil Rights movement.
Whenever I see commercials for movies like this, I want to learn more about the actual history of the characters, so I do a little research on them. Don Shirley was a talented pianist and composer who played several genres of music. The bodyguard, Tony Lip, was known for a small role in The Godfather and as a crime boss on The Sopranos. Both gentleman passed away in 2013.
The information I found most fascinating was the history of the book the movie is named after. The Negro Motorist Green Book, known as The Green Book, was a book that existed between 1936 to 1966 to help African American travelers throughout the United States travel safely and navigate through the segregated locations throughout the country. The book listed hotels, restaurants, motor garages and other locations that were friendly to “Non-Whites” while on the road in unfamiliar territory. The gentleman who wrote the book, Victor Hugo Green, was a mailman in New York City and eventually opened a travel agency to assist African Americans to plan vacations in friendly areas.
This was a difficult and awful time in American history, but this was a whole new level that I did not even think of. I knew about the lengths that segregation went in the country, but it did not even dawn on me how difficult it would have been for African Americans to find vacation spots. The Wikipedia page for The Green Book shows a picture of segregated camping spots in the Shenandoah National Park and my mind was blown. This book must have been huge for travelers.
While I am not sure if I will get to the theater to see this movie, I definitely plan on watching it at some point. I love learning new perspectives of history!