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The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the black travel guide to America. At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldnt eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America. 


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The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the black travel guide to America. At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldnt eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America. 

30 review for Overground Railroad: The Green Book & Roots of Black Travel in America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "Carry your Green Book with you . . . you may need it!" -- the admonishment often listed on the cover About a year ago a film called Green Book (starring Mahershala Ali, an actor who is lately receiving a lot of well-deserved accolades; I though he was just outstanding in the third season of HBO's True Detective anthology series) was released in theaters. I had no idea what the title meant, and I have not yet had a chance to watch the acclaimed film. But it spurred me on to select Taylor's "Carry your Green Book with you . . . you may need it!" -- the admonishment often listed on the cover About a year ago a film called Green Book (starring Mahershala Ali, an actor who is lately receiving a lot of well-deserved accolades; I though he was just outstanding in the third season of HBO's True Detective anthology series) was released in theaters. I had no idea what the title meant, and I have not yet had a chance to watch the acclaimed film. But it spurred me on to select Taylor's Overground Railroad: The Green Book & Roots of Black Travel in America from my local library's new release shelf. Sometimes it's kind of amazing about the relatively recent but little-known / remembered or forgotten history a reader can learn about via a book. For thirty years - 1936 to 1966, with only a break during WWII - a mail carrier named Victor Green self-published an annual advisory guide for African-American travelers in the era where vacationing by automobile became more commonplace with the early state routes and highways. His 'The Negro Motorist Green Book' (meaning both his surname and the color of ink used on the covers) listed establishments - hotels, restaurants, taverns, night clubs, repair garages, dry cleaners, hair care, etc. - that were often owned by and would cater to customers of African-American descent. His intent was to assist in safe travel and promote friendly enterprises in that less-enlightened time of 'whites only' postings and Jim Crow laws. Author Taylor does an excellent job documenting and detailing a number of the businesses and the involved personalities (I would love to have a conversation with the motherly Ms. Leah Chase - who is still with us at 97 years old - about the time Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall had a strategy meeting/dinner at her New Orleans diner) that simply no longer exist for many reasons. There are also numerous historical and current-day photographs of the locations and folks. Much less interesting were the author's politics and beliefs which begin to grind on me because it felt like being lectured. I thought it became heavy-handed at times as I did not agree with all of her opinions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    Living in Japan for the past decade or so, I always find it difficult to express to people what life was and is like for black men and women in America. There is always a kind of shock and horror at the endemic racism in Americas history and that it lives on even after a black president. At this point Im often asked, How did people survive under these conditions? How did they have families and lives? Not having lived through some of the truly horrible history, I can only imagine that one Living in Japan for the past decade or so, I always find it difficult to express to people what life was and is like for black men and women in America. There is always a kind of shock and horror at the endemic racism in America’s history and that it lives on even after a black president. At this point I’m often asked, “How did people survive under these conditions? How did they have families and lives?” Not having lived through some of the truly horrible history, I can only imagine that one develops coping mechanisms to deal with the everyday horror. One learns where and where not to go and what to do if all else fails. “Overground Railroad” is a fascinating book that deals with one particular way black people dealt with the very real danger of being black in America while trying to live the semblance of a normal life. In 1936, US postal worker Victor Green would publish the first in a series over more than two decades of travel books called “The Negro Traveler’s Green Book”. It was not the first of its kind but it was unique in its thoroughness and ubiquity in the lives of those who used it. Filled with black friendly hotels, restaurants, and entertainment spaces, the Green Book was much more than simply a travel guide. It was in a very real sense a lifesaver when driving through unfamiliar areas. “Overground Railroad” is filled with anecdotes, particularly from the author’s stepfather, about instances where travel was deadly serious and not knowing where was safe could have disastrous consequences. Right from the beginning we are told a story of the police pulling over her stepfather in an unfamiliar Southern town: “ ‘Don’t you dare say a word’ Ron was sitting in the back seat as his father pulled the car to a stop at the side of the road. His father had told him to be quiet before, but this was the first time Ron felt the words reverberate to the pit of his stomach. Moments later, the sheriff stood over the well-appointed 1953 Chevy sedan complete with all the modern features you read about in the magazines. ‘Where did you get this vehicle? What are you doing here? And who are these people with you?’ the sheriff asked. Ron’s father answered, It’s my employer’s car. He pointed to his wife, sitting upright and expressionless in the passenger seat. He pretended that she wasn’t his wife and said, ‘This is my employer’s maid, and that is her son in the back. I’m taking them home. The sheriff took a long, hard look at Ron’s mother and then angled his eyes to the back seat. A young Ronald sat tight-lipped, too afraid to turn his head or even take a breath. ‘Where’s your hat?’ the sheriff barked at Ron’s dad. ‘Hanging up right behind me in the back seat, officer.’ The sheriff waved. ‘All right. Move on.’ As they drove north across the Tennessee border, a sad, eerie silence hung in the air. The jovial conversation they were having right before the sheriff pulled them over had stopped dead. And although there was no discussion about what had just happened, the gravity of the situation was clear. Ron watched Daddy and Mama exchange knowing glances and then turned his head to look at the black, unassuming cap that had been hanging next to him in the back seat ever since he could remember. It wasn’t until that moment that he realized why he had never seen his father wearing it. Mama wasn’t a maid, and Daddy wasn’t a driver. He had a good job with the railroad, and this was their family car. Until that day, Ron never paid attention to that cap, but now he realized that it wasn’t just any hat. It was a chauffeur’s hat. A ruse, a prop, a lifesaver. During the Jim Crow era, the chauffeur’s hat was the perfect cover for every middle-class black man pulled over and harassed by the police. If Ron’s father had told the sheriff the truth that he was driving his own car and that they were a family on vacation the sheriff wouldn’t have believed him. He would have assumed the car was stolen. In the event that the sheriff did believe it was Ron’s father’ s car, the rage and jealousy he might have felt at the thought of a black man owning a nicer car than a police officer might have triggered a beating, torture, or even murder. From that day on, Ron noticed these hats strategically placed, like unarmed weapons, in the back seat of nearly every black man’s car. With stories like this being part of everyday life, perhaps it is no wonder that Green would always append the tag live to his guide “Carry your Green Book with you-you may need it”. It was no idle suggestion. Despite the ever present dangers to black travelers and that vaguely ominous sentence however, the Free Book did not trade in fear. Along with the listings travelers would need on the road, the guide was often filled with articles about upwardly mobile black men and women, the latest in cars and household appliances, and generally celebrating a good life. It was also for most of its life generally apolitical until its later editions in the 1960s. As the author attempts to visit many of the sites however, she discovers that most of them have either fallen into disrepair or long since been destroyed. Taylor ties this in brilliantly to the seeming unquenchable desire to establish white historical landmarks while black ones are more often than not ignored or destroyed. Looking at the broken communities today where many of these sites once stood, it is hard not to feel despondent, if not angry, that two different Americas have been allowed to exist side by side for so long. As she points it, this degradation in black communities was by design. Be it through the practice of ‘redlining’ where real estate agents specifically underlined properties that were not to be rented or sold to blacks (she references James Loewen’s research into this practice in his fantastic book “Sundown Towns”. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in this), or the interstate highway system built in the 1950’s which ruthlessly bisected black communities while leaving white ones intact. As she writes: “So, when we look at places such as Chicago and wonder why there is so much violence there, perhaps that is the wrong question. Given this history, why would we expect it to be any different? If you have two plants and you give one everything it needs (sunshine, food, and water) and barely water the other one, you won’t expect the neglected plant to be as robust as the one that received nourishment, kindness, and attention. From this perspective, isn’t it obvious that the flagrant neglect by state and federal governments bears significant responsibility for the dire condition of inner-city neighborhoods throughout America?” Looking at America in 2020, it is difficult to argue with her thesis. While there is no longer a need for a “Green Book”, it is clear with police brutality, discrimination in housing, and the resegregation of schools, that America remains a country that has yet to live up to its ideals for all of its citizens.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    full post here: http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... This book is a must read. An absolute must read. I'd first heard of the Green Book while reading Matt Ruff's novel Lovecraft Country a couple of years back. In the novel, set in the 1950s, one of the characters was the editor/publisher of something called The Safe Negro Travel Guide. I remember at the time thinking what a crap thing it was that something like The Safe Negro Travel Guide had to even exist, and wondering if there was some full post here: http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... This book is a must read. An absolute must read. I'd first heard of the Green Book while reading Matt Ruff's novel Lovecraft Country a couple of years back. In the novel, set in the 1950s, one of the characters was the editor/publisher of something called The Safe Negro Travel Guide. I remember at the time thinking what a crap thing it was that something like The Safe Negro Travel Guide had to even exist, and wondering if there was some underlying truth to it I looked it up, and sure as s**t there it was, The Negro Motorist Green Book. I was appalled, actually, a) that this was a real thing and b) at my own ignorance -- I had no clue that it existed. However sad the fact of its existence, it turned out to be, as author Candacy Taylor notes, "an ingenious solution to a horrific problem," representing "the fundamental optimism of a race of people facing tyranny and terrorism." In Overground Railroad, the author (who has visited over four thousand Green Book sites, and provides some of the photos she's taken in the book) offers an across-the-decades overview of the Green Book, published from 1936-1967, setting her work within both historical and geographical contexts of American history. In doing so, she examines racism and other forces at work in this country that led to the necessity of creating such a guide. Victor Green, who founded the Green Book in 1936, most likely made no money from it, but as the author notes, "his reward was much more valuable than money, because for every business he listed, he may have saved a life." As she also states, "real change can come from simple tools that solve a problem," which is what made the Green Book so powerful. What Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. says about this book on the back-cover blurb sort of sums it all up: "If 'making a way out of no way' is a theme that runs throughout African-American life, few things encapsulate that theme more powerfully that the Green Book. A symbol of Jim Crow America, it is also a stunning rebuke of it, born out of ingenuity and the relentless quest for freedom." It is unforgettable, compelling and a book that is not only beyond relevant but also critical reading in our own times, one that should be on the shelves of every library everywhere including the one in your home. It is worthy of winning any book award nomination that may come its way. Brava, Candacy Taylor, just brava. documentary: https://www.smithsonianchannel.com/sh... available on the Smithsonian Channel or via Amazon prime video.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B685NFrAD... This is a MUST READ.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cam

    Very interesting and informative book to read. I learned about things I never thought about reading the book. Green Book was hailed as the black travel guide to America. At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldnt eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to Very interesting and informative book to read. I learned about things I never thought about reading the book. Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    The story of America is often the story of people moving -- migrating, pioneering, or just taking a vacation to see someplace new or visit relatives. But for Black Americans, moving is not the carefree Route 66 roadtrip that it is for white people. During Jim Crow, many hotels, restaurants, and even gas stations were off limits to Black travelers. The Green Book was one of several guides for Black motorists (as well as those traveling by train or bus) to let them know where they were welcome to The story of America is often the story of people moving -- migrating, pioneering, or just taking a vacation to see someplace new or visit relatives. But for Black Americans, moving is not the carefree Route 66 roadtrip that it is for white people. During Jim Crow, many hotels, restaurants, and even gas stations were off limits to Black travelers. The Green Book was one of several guides for Black motorists (as well as those traveling by train or bus) to let them know where they were welcome to eat, sleep, and stop. Candacy Taylor's Overground Railroad could have been just a terrific coffee table book with its colorful photos of featured hotels and diners along with pages from the iconic Green Book. But she went much further and also made it a riveting history of the Green Book, of Jim Crow, and -- most important -- she emphasizes with examples how this era is not really over. Really eye-opening and I look forward to more by Taylor.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I can't say enough about how wonderful this book is. Not only does it explain the history of something that I'm going to say most people don't really know about, and not only does it have amazing photography to add to the story, but it uses real people's testimonies to give a personal element and help the reader feel the emotions that all the people affected by Jim Crow and segregation must have felt. It was a very emotionally taxing book, making me really think critically about all the history I can't say enough about how wonderful this book is. Not only does it explain the history of something that I'm going to say most people don't really know about, and not only does it have amazing photography to add to the story, but it uses real people's testimonies to give a personal element and help the reader feel the emotions that all the people affected by Jim Crow and segregation must have felt. It was a very emotionally taxing book, making me really think critically about all the history that this country keeps quiet. I guarantee it will do the same for other readers. But at the same time, through all the heartbreaking stories and realities, you can see the strength of a community of people to fight and work to overcome a prejudiced society. That in itself is inspiring.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This was a great examination of the extent of the racial terrorism black people had to face through well into the 20th Century. Too many people think their hardships ended when slavery did, and nothing could be further from the truth. The author uses the Green Book as a guide to take us through the decades of "The Greatest Generation" and beyond to show us exactly how opposite of "great" this time period was for black people. Segregation, discrimination and racial violence were still rampant for This was a great examination of the extent of the racial terrorism black people had to face through well into the 20th Century. Too many people think their hardships ended when slavery did, and nothing could be further from the truth. The author uses the Green Book as a guide to take us through the decades of "The Greatest Generation" and beyond to show us exactly how opposite of "great" this time period was for black people. Segregation, discrimination and racial violence were still rampant for DECADES during this so called "Greatest Generation". The atrocities and literal murders taking place during this time period make that label so deeply ironic to me. So much of this is still a problem today and we still have so far to go. This is a great read to help fill in the blanks that the white supremacist public education system in this country has gone to great lengths to ignore and erase. I'll never get over learning about every single atrocity committed during the Holocaust in school, but never talking about the atrocities happening in our very own country at the exact same time and beyond.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I honestly think I favor reading nonfiction some days over jumping into a well-written fantasy novel. Civil Rights in America remains one of my favorite topics to learn about because you will never reach the end of all the lives and events that transpired. This is primarily because segregation and Jim Crow continually impact the country, despite legal and cultural shifts every few years. Overground Railroad delves deep into the history of the Green Book, an African American guide to travel and I honestly think I favor reading nonfiction some days over jumping into a well-written fantasy novel. Civil Rights in America remains one of my favorite topics to learn about because you will never reach the end of all the lives and events that transpired. This is primarily because segregation and Jim Crow continually impact the country, despite legal and cultural shifts every few years. Overground Railroad delves deep into the history of the Green Book, an African American guide to travel and establishments open to their patronage from 1936 to 1966. There is so much history embedded with its publication that readers who are interested in any part of American history will likely find some enjoyment out of reading this well-researched analysis of African American life and travel within the United States for the last ninety years. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    This book describes the history of the Green Book traveling guide for African Americans, chronologically exploring this project's development and impact from the mid-30s through integration. However, this book is also a guide to the author's personal thoughts about a variety of different political and social issues, and the Green Book is often just a backdrop to what she wants to say about later decades' events and contemporary problems. I ended up being very disappointed, because even though This book describes the history of the Green Book traveling guide for African Americans, chronologically exploring this project's development and impact from the mid-30s through integration. However, this book is also a guide to the author's personal thoughts about a variety of different political and social issues, and the Green Book is often just a backdrop to what she wants to say about later decades' events and contemporary problems. I ended up being very disappointed, because even though this book covers a lot of great material, its title, cover, and size deceived me into thinking that this would provide far more substantial history about the Green Book and black travel than it actually did. I wanted more stories about the experiences that black individuals and families had on the road, and less detail about how different geographic areas' racial makeups and politics changed over time. Even though systemic racism is very relevant to the story, the author couldn't decide between writing about the Green Book and writing about the history of US race relations. Much of this material was already familiar to me, and even though I learned a lot of new and interesting things, like about how some northern cities limited access to public recreational parks and beaches by making highway overpasses too low for public transit vehicles to pass under them, there were also lots of facts included here that had nothing to do with travel, and were just serving as a primer on why black people have been socially and economically limited throughout American history. Most of the material in here was really good, so I don't want to criticize the author for providing important educational background for people who aren't familiar with these issues. Still, I believe that this book would have been much stronger if she had chosen between actually focusing on the Green Book and putting together a general primer on systemic racism. I was here for "The Green Book & Roots of Black Travel in America," not for pages and pages of explanation, issues, and anecdotes that had nothing to do with either of these things. Also, the author gets preachy on multiple occasions, providing social commentary instead of documenting history. I enjoyed the personal elements of the book when she shared stories about her stepfather's experiences with travel, and I appreciate the ways that she showed how she learned and grew throughout researching this project, coming to a deeper understanding of survival tactics and thought processes that once just seemed paranoid to her. However, some of the personal elements of the book weakened it, because she frequently soap-boxed about current issues and related tangents from her specific political perspective, rather than talking about the Green Book and the roots of black travel in America. Even when she is directly focused on the advertised topic of this book, it still wasn't everything that I wanted. Sometimes, when she wrote about a former Green Book location, she shared specific anecdotes about people's experiences there, but at other times, she just listed various black luminaries who had visited that hotel or eaten at that restaurant. This may truly have been all the information that she had access to, but I was interested in a more story-driven approach to the subject, and I wanted to know about family trips and business travel, not who ate or slept where, or how an area has been gentrified since. At the end of the book, the author shares a photo-illustrated directory of locations advertised in the Green Book that still exist. I enjoyed looking through this, but I had skimmed a lot to get to this point, because this is a very long book. It could have been cut down to be so much shorter without all of the elements that weakened it, and even though I learned a great deal and know that this was worth my time, it isn't something that I would strongly recommend. Someone who isn't familiar with black history in America may want and need all of the extensive background information that the author includes, but for someone who specifically wants to learn about the Green Book, this is best read by skimming the extraneous parts.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I received an ARC of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. First off, its gorgeous. The layout and pictures are fantastic! I love learning about history, but some history books are so dry. This is not one of them. The writing is superb and blends historical facts with personal stories and connects it all with whats presently happening. This is such an important read. I received an ARC of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. First off, it’s gorgeous. The layout and pictures are fantastic! I love learning about history, but some history books are so dry. This is not one of them. The writing is superb and blends historical facts with personal stories and connects it all with what’s presently happening. This is such an important read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Linda Bond

    Overground Railroad is an impressive tour through a particular chapter in our history one in which black citizens took advantage of their right to own a vehicle and to travel U.S. highways. But it was not particularly safe for them, especially in southern states, where they were often turned away from restaurants, hotels/motels, gas stations and all sorts of local businesses. A recent very successful movie The Green Book turned a spotlight on one of the things that made a big difference to Overground Railroad is an impressive tour through a particular chapter in our history – one in which black citizens took advantage of their right to own a vehicle and to travel U.S. highways. But it was not particularly safe for them, especially in southern states, where they were often turned away from restaurants, hotels/motels, gas stations and all sorts of local businesses. A recent very successful movie – The Green Book – turned a spotlight on one of the things that made a big difference to these travelers. First published in 1936, The Green Book included advertisements and listings from the brave business owners who stood up to segregation and offered their premises and products to these travelers. But this is more than a story of the Green Book. It is also a look at the history of our country – the divisions that separated us and the courage of many that united us. Historians will be pleased to add this revealing book to their shelves. But so will readers interested in human rights, our slow and ponderous steps towards freedom, equality and respect for all, and the deep-seated fears and resentments that are still with us as we struggle with this most important challenge today. I met this book at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, WA

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    *** Review copy received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *** As someone more familiar with the Hollywood film "The Green Book," I wanted to consult a more well-researched and historically accurate guide that discussed this historical document. I should note that while I found the film interesting, it was primarily geared toward making white audiences feel better about themselves. Critics, including Don Shirley's family members, were quick to point out that the film stretched the *** Review copy received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *** As someone more familiar with the Hollywood film "The Green Book," I wanted to consult a more well-researched and historically accurate guide that discussed this historical document. I should note that while I found the film interesting, it was primarily geared toward making white audiences feel better about themselves. Critics, including Don Shirley's family members, were quick to point out that the film stretched the truth in order to make the Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga character (played by Viggo Mortensen) seem more heroic than he actually was by historical accounts. It used elements of the white saviour trope, and I'm not even going to get into how problematic the "fried chicken" scene was. I wanted to know more about the history of "The Negro Motorist Green Book" written by Victor Hugo Green, the basic premise of which was to let African-American road trippers know which businesses or hotels abided by Jim Crow laws so they could avoid them where possible and not have to endure racism, refusing to be served, or in some cases, threats of physical violence and/or forcible expulsion (and much worse). Although the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, most readers should know that this didn't exactly lead to idyllic harmony. African-Americans are still being murdered far too often, particularly by white law enforcement, to this day, which is inhumane and unspeakable. "Overground Railroad" starts off with a white sheriff in Tennessee pulling over an African-American man and his family to the side of the road because of the colour of their skin. The officer interrogates the father of the family, demanding to know how he obtained the vehicle (implying he could not possibly have bought it), and demands to know who the people are with him (his family, which he had to pretend were his employer's maid and son). The sheriff tells them to move along. The author explains that the black hat hanging in the backseat, a chauffeur's hat, was what enabled them to surmount the incident (for lack of a better term) and that during the Jim Crow era, "the chauffeur's hat was the perfect cover for every middle-class black man pulled over and harassed by the police." It was a survival tool. "In the event that the sheriff did believe it was Ron's father's car, the rage and jealousy he might have felt at the thought of a black man owning a nicer car than a police officer might have triggered a beating, torture, or even murder." In addition to being a helpful guide showing African-American travellers where they could go, "it was also a compelling marketing tool that supported black-owned businesses and celebrated black self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship." Written in an informative, active, and engaging style, "Overground Railroad" is a fascinating account of how The Green Book came to be, how it was used, and a personal account from the author's stepfather, Ron, of what it meant to navigate the Jim Crow South. The author also relates how even though much has changed since then, it really hasn't. As she says, "The whole point of the Green Book was to keep black motorists safe on the road, and it's eighty years later, and I can't find a safe place to use the bathroom." The author explains the significance that being able to purchase a car meant for African-American men, as a mode of transportation in which they would not have to fear for their lives while riding transit such as buses or trolleys, or being subjected to "colored" sections on vehicles. Being able to purchase a car as an African-American, however, also incited white anger. There was also the matter of purchasing insurance, because many companies in the 1930s refused to insure black motorists. The author also talks about the exclusion of African-Americans from frequenting other types of businesses, such as movie theatres or golf ranges (despithe the fact that George Grant, an African American dentist, "made the most significant contribution when he designed the first golf tee, in 1899"). The author also explains that while many African-Americans did leave the South for better opportunities, there may have been fewer "Whites Only" signs, "but many of the towns they passed through held the same fearful and ignorant attitudes toward them that were prevalent in the South." Interestingly, travelling by train was a huge part of the history of transportation as it relates to race, as many railroad companies employed African Americans, but also it featured prominently in Victor Green's guide, and he dedicated the entire 1951 Green Book edition, calling it the "Railroad Edition." Those readers who have been among the many to discover, thanks to the recent television adaptation of "Watchmen" that the 1921 Tulsa killing of 300 African-Americans was indeed all too real will find the author devotes a portion of her book to the massacre. Of particular interest is the chapter devoted to African-American women and their use of the Green Book. "By the 1959 edition, not only were women listing their businesses, but [also] a woman was in charge of the entire Green Book operation (Alma Duke Green, Victor's wife)." Additionally, the book addresses the issue of colourism, or a prevalence/preference in American culture to regard beauty as having light skin. Unfortunately, the Green Book was published for twenty-five years "before a black figure with traditional African features graced the cover." The author discusses the nuances of colourism, light-skinned African-Americans (particularly those who could pass for white) and how it seeped into black advertising, social activities, and friendships. This book covers a vast expanse of American history that more readers need to immerse themselves in. As well, the author discusses other travel guides aimed at African-Americans, including the first black travel guide, "Hackley and Harrison's Hotel and Apartment Guide for Colored Travelers," published in 1930 (six years before the Green Book). The book also features many historical and archival photographs of great significance, which is worth noting. "Eye-opening" would be an understatement to describe this book. The author also discusses issues of mass incarceration of African-Americans, particularly in 2018, and how staggering it is. America's struggles with race and social mobility continue. As the author says, we still have a lot of work to do. Fascinating and heartbreaking, this book needs to be purchased and widely accessible to public libraries and academic ones alike, available in bookstores, and taught in schools. It is staggeringly relevant and although many people struggle to understand the current American political landscape, books like this paint a clear picture of how we got to where we are and that these things have not happened in a vacuum.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ted Waterfall

    What an absolutely amazing book! Candacy Taylor has written a wonderfully readable and eye-opening account of a vital publication called The Green Book, which helped the black traveler on the road to find safe accommodations and businesses willing to serve him during the height of Jim Crow oppression. The impact of this book went beyond this. It also meant more investments in black owned businesses that were listed and the resulting economic boost. The description of many of these businesses, What an absolutely amazing book! Candacy Taylor has written a wonderfully readable and eye-opening account of a vital publication called The Green Book, which helped the black traveler on the road to find safe accommodations and businesses willing to serve him during the height of Jim Crow oppression. The impact of this book went beyond this. It also meant more investments in black owned businesses that were listed and the resulting economic boost. The description of many of these businesses, entertainers, and leaders within the black community is fascinating. It also addresses the topic of racism directly, and her examples should break anybody's heart. And it existed at all levels. "Between 1877 and 1968, the Ku Klux Klan and other white vigilante gangs casually massacred more that four thousand black people." And by the publishing of the 1948 Green Book, almost 200 anti-lynching laws had been introduced into Congress - and none of them passed. None. (p.106). But it doesn't stop there. It is also a convincing commentary on the extent of racism even today. A study conducted in Chicago's "hypersegregated" neighborhoods found that whites used drugs at about the same rate as blacks did, but Chicago's black community "had an imprisonment rate more than forty times higher than that for the surrounding white communities." (p.122). Furthermore, it was discovered that Brooklyn, Chicago, and New Orleans, spent more than one million dollars per city block to incarcerate its residents each year, usually located in traditionally black neighborhoods where Green Book sites had been clustered. Do you think that maybe - just maybe - this is part of why Colin Kaepernick took his knee? There is much, much more to this book than this, and it is certainly not all about racism. It is enjoyable, it is sad, it is informative, it is happy, and boy, is it eye-opening. Anybody who wants try to better understand an experience most of us could never comprehend should read this book. I won this uncorrected Advanced Readers Copy from Goodreads.com and any reference to a page number may, or may not match the final publication which is due to be published in January, 2020.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sean Taylor

    I read this book immediately after reading Bound for Canaan, a history book about the Underground Railroad (phenomenal, I highly recommend it), so my context for reading this is most likely a bit different than others. What instantly became apparent were the similarities of how black people had to travel: they had to know what houses or businesses were safe, what towns may be safer than others, who could be trusted. Candace A. Taylor does a brilliant job of telling the story of the Green Book I read this book immediately after reading Bound for Canaan, a history book about the Underground Railroad (phenomenal, I highly recommend it), so my context for reading this is most likely a bit different than others. What instantly became apparent were the similarities of how black people had to travel: they had to know what houses or businesses were safe, what towns may be safer than others, who could be trusted. Candace A. Taylor does a brilliant job of telling the story of the Green Book here - as much as it can be given the limited records and personal accounts of the creators - and of detailing the ways in which it saved lives, and improved lives. Taylor deftly shows how gentrification and eminent domain just happened to end Green Book site's, and how one of the Civil Rights Act's unintentional consequences was that many Green Book businesses went under due to no longer being strictly supported by black people. That black people could now go anywhere, at least legally, and therefore they, and their money, were no longer dedicated to the one black owned or black friendly gas station, or hotel, or restaurant. What the Green Book did was publish what was verbal history, or word of mouth knowledge, as to where a black person could rely on what white people took for granted, never worried about. In this way, it published an underground railroad for a new generation, one that no longer had to rely on person to person hand offs until freedom was reached. Taylor at one point raises the notion that a current one feels needed at times, and while it would be easy as a white make to dismiss this, it instantly made me think of how all of my non white friends know exactly what restaurants or bars to avoid due to racism. In other words, the Green Book still exists today but it exists by word of mouth, verbal knowledge, like the Underground Railroad.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lynette

    Author Candacy Taylor takes readers on a trip across America and through an important era in America's segregated history with "Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America." This book not only charts the rise of African-American leisure travel and how this pastime was aided by Victor H. Green's "Negro Motorist Green Book," it manages to link the past to the present by incorporating historical research, photos, anecdotes, and field research from Taylor's visits to Author Candacy Taylor takes readers on a trip across America and through an important era in America's segregated history with "Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America." This book not only charts the rise of African-American leisure travel and how this pastime was aided by Victor H. Green's "Negro Motorist Green Book," it manages to link the past to the present by incorporating historical research, photos, anecdotes, and field research from Taylor's visits to the sites listed in the Green Book. The Green Book, first published in 1936, listed lodging and service establishments which provided safe havens for Black travelers courageous enough to venture along America's highways and byways at a time when it was not always safe to do so. With "Overground Railroad," Taylor, (www.taylormadeculture.com), a cultural documentarian and fellow of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, through artful storytelling puts readers in the passengers seat as she travels through big cities and "sundown towns," and relates the true experiences, and many dangers, that Black Americans travelers faced when trying to grab onto this aspect of the "American dream." The book not only charts the rise of Black middle-class mobility through property (including vehicle) ownership and leisure travel, but the challenges those attempts presented. It also details the impact of Eisenhower's National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (U.S. Interstate Highway System), its impact on U.S. travel and American communities, and how the businesses and communities listed in the Green Book have changed over the decades since its publication.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    This was an interesting and well-detailed book about the history of the famous Green Book and first hand accounts from African American individuals and families from the 1920s to the late 1960s. This book is divided based on the years that the Green Book was published as well as particular events in American History. In each chapter, the book illustrates what African American families had to experience while traveling or returning from war and what businesses were welcoming. Mr. Green, the This was an interesting and well-detailed book about the history of the famous Green Book and first hand accounts from African American individuals and families from the 1920s to the late 1960s. This book is divided based on the years that the Green Book was published as well as particular events in American History. In each chapter, the book illustrates what African American families had to experience while traveling or returning from war and what businesses were welcoming. Mr. Green, the founder of the Green Book, and his contributors worked hard to create a sort of "guide book" for families to avoid hatred, racism and bigotry. As I was born way after the events contained in this book, this was a fact filled retelling and analysis of those particular events. Along with pictures of places and real articles pulled from the years that the chapters covers, this book is full of historical facts that would likely surprise people of today. Overall, I enjoyed this book and not just because there were images to support the text and show locations that were in operation and became part of this "Overground Railroad" that sought to keep African American families safe while traveling across the United States. For those interested in 20th Century American History, give this book a try. **I received this Advanced Reading Copy as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Heerman

    Overground Railroad provides an interesting sociological study of American travel by Black Americans from the 1930s to the 1960s. Using the Green Book, a guide to safe places to eat, stay, and go for entertainment, that was the subject of the recent Oscar-winning film, Taylor traces the significance of travel in America. It expands from auto trips to include train and eventually airplane travel. Though there are not footnotes and a lot of the material may be anecdotal (oral history), the Overground Railroad provides an interesting sociological study of American travel by Black Americans from the 1930s to the 1960s. Using the Green Book, a guide to safe places to eat, stay, and go for entertainment, that was the subject of the recent Oscar-winning film, Taylor traces the significance of travel in America. It expands from auto trips to include train and eventually airplane travel. Though there are not footnotes and a lot of the material may be anecdotal (oral history), the monograph gives us an understanding of travel in the Jim Crow South and de facto segregated North. It traces the history of the Green Book, which postal carrier Victor Green developed in the 1930s for Harlem. It lasted a few years beyond his death in the early 1960s, but the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act meant the end of legal segregation. Intriguingly this led to the downfall of the Black-owned restraints, hotels, and other places of entertainment in the black communities throughout the county. Taylor provides background information about a lot of the locations as well as the people who operated them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carol Kirwin

    Thank you, Ms. Taylor, for outlining in detail the era of the Green Book and punctuating with example after example of the injustice that African American population endured. To read at length the ongoing abuse and indignities that African Americans suffered over the years is sickening. At the end of the book, Ms. Taylor quotes Martin Luther King Jr, "What is needed is a strategy for change, a tactical program that will bring the Negro [sic] into the mainstream of American life as quickly as Thank you, Ms. Taylor, for outlining in detail the era of the Green Book and punctuating with example after example of the injustice that African American population endured. To read at length the ongoing abuse and indignities that African Americans suffered over the years is sickening. At the end of the book, Ms. Taylor quotes Martin Luther King Jr, "What is needed is a strategy for change, a tactical program that will bring the Negro [sic] into the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible." We've change the label to African American, but what else has changed?!!! This book is stunning physically! The paper the text is printed on is sturdy and white (Oh, god! I feel guilty to use that word :-O ). Brightly colored and black and white photographs of the people and places that Ms. Taylor talks about in the text bring her chronicle to life. At the back of the book is a is list of What We Can Do. For example,"Check with your financial advisor and make sure your 401(k) isn't funding the prison-industrial complex."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Overground Railroad by Candacy A. Taylor is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November. The real Green Book, as interpreted by Taylor (who does most of her research on the road with her life and safety often at risk) and her family, which was published for the first time in 1936 by Victor Green and annually released until 1967. It talks in-depth about the Green Book itself, the events going on that year in history, and of the known and unknown of driving while black, like the danger of Overground Railroad by Candacy A. Taylor is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November. The real Green Book, as interpreted by Taylor (who does most of her research on the road with her life and safety often at risk) and her family, which was published for the first time in 1936 by Victor Green and annually released until 1967. It talks in-depth about the Green Book itself, the events going on that year in history, and of the known and unknown of driving while black, like the danger of sundown towns, the development of habits like packing food in advance of a car trip, driving slowly with ID & registration in non-occluded reach and items to identify yourself as a chauffeur, overt and covert racist discrimination, and details of epic places, such as the Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans, Jack’s Chicken Basket and Clifton’s Cafeteria in LA, and Murray’s Dude Ranch near Victorville, CA.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gary Detrick

    A well documented and throughly researched history lesson for all readers. At times my heart and soul became overwhelmed with disgust. What's sad is we still see this today on all sides. Inside, I am truly at a lost for words. I spoke with a friend of mine who's birth-home is Puerto Rico regarding this topic. He never experienced segregation in his country until he came to America, and notice it very quickly. It was not that way in his homeland; everyone of all cultures mingled and racism was not A well documented and throughly researched history lesson for all readers. At times my heart and soul became overwhelmed with disgust. What's sad is we still see this today on all sides. Inside, I am truly at a lost for words. I spoke with a friend of mine who's birth-home is Puerto Rico regarding this topic. He never experienced segregation in his country until he came to America, and notice it very quickly. It was not that way in his homeland; everyone of all cultures mingled and racism was not an issue. It was an adjustment to his understanding why it was this way here. This book is an important start towards getting us and our leaders to think of solutions to move beyond this form of treatment, but it starts with each of us, as individuals first. There is so many beautiful and historic places in America that we should all have the opportunity to freely travel and visit, feeling welcomed, being respected and respecting others.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Francine

    4.5/5 stars WOW! The power of sharing personal true stories rings through time and time again with Taylors tribute to the Green Book and those Black individuals, couples, and families who traveled the Overground Railroad - powerful primary source documents and photographs are juxtaposed amid poignant prose. Quotes of Note: History doesnt repeat itself. Humans do. - Jelani Cobb Langston Hughes poem, Beaumont to Detroit: 1943 I dont care if youre the pope or the president...You have to eat. And I can 4.5/5 stars WOW! The power of sharing personal true stories rings through time and time again with Taylor’s tribute to the Green Book and those Black individuals, couples, and families who traveled the “Overground Railroad” - powerful primary source documents and photographs are juxtaposed amid poignant prose. Quotes of Note: “History doesn’t repeat itself. Humans do.” - Jelani Cobb Langston Hughes poem, “Beaumont to Detroit: 1943” “I don’t care if you’re the pope or the president...You have to eat. And I can cook for you...If I can get the people on both sides [of the political spectrum] to just sit down at my table, I think we can work this out.” Leah Chase, owner & chef, Dookey Chase’s, New Orleans, Louisiana My next read in relation to this book will be Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, which has been on my TBR list.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    This is an outstanding and fascinating history of the Green Book--a guide for black Americans during Jim Crow that listed safe businesses to shop at, safe places to stay, safe garages to fill up their cars, and other places and people who could help them as they travelled the country. Author Candacy Taylor has not just examined the book, its creation, and publication, but also conducted interviews with people who used it, taking her work beyond the abstract or academic and demonstrating how This is an outstanding and fascinating history of the Green Book--a guide for black Americans during Jim Crow that listed safe businesses to shop at, safe places to stay, safe garages to fill up their cars, and other places and people who could help them as they travelled the country. Author Candacy Taylor has not just examined the book, its creation, and publication, but also conducted interviews with people who used it, taking her work beyond the abstract or academic and demonstrating how crucial the Green Book--and other guides like it--were in specific dangerous situations experienced by blacks traveling in the US.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay McBride

    I loved the way Candacy Taylor wove in narrative with intensive research. This book is just as much about the history of the green book as it is about racial issues today. Its a commentary about the ways in which our history has defined our country today as well as celebrates black achievement and entrepreneurship. I also really enjoyed that she gave the reader specific things to do to make change as well as lists the green book sites by each city! Its an amazing read and I cant wait for the I loved the way Candacy Taylor wove in narrative with intensive research. This book is just as much about the history of the green book as it is about racial issues today. It’s a commentary about the ways in which our history has defined our country today as well as celebrates black achievement and entrepreneurship. I also really enjoyed that she gave the reader specific things to do to make change as well as lists the green book sites by each city! It’s an amazing read and I can’t wait for the young adult version so my students can read it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Liana

    I received this book as part of a goodreads giveaway. This book was interesting and engaging. It describes not just the history of segregation and the rise of African-American travelers, but also how the Green Book was developed and how the travel guide evolved over time. By incorporating stories and photos in addition to the historical research, it makes the past come alive, and shows how things have changed (and how some things haven't) in the half century since the Green Book was last I received this book as part of a goodreads giveaway. This book was interesting and engaging. It describes not just the history of segregation and the rise of African-American travelers, but also how the Green Book was developed and how the travel guide evolved over time. By incorporating stories and photos in addition to the historical research, it makes the past come alive, and shows how things have changed (and how some things haven't) in the half century since the Green Book was last published.

  26. 5 out of 5

    wade

    Moved by stories of his youth by her step father and the struggle his black family makes to travel in our country Ms. Taylor has provided a detailed study of the Green Book the legendary travel guide for minorities in the mid twentieth century. She crosses the country taking photographs of all the locations that are either still in existence or are used for a different purpose now. She also shows Green Book cover art and excerpts over the years. I teach college level history and I learned a Moved by stories of his youth by her step father and the struggle his black family makes to travel in our country Ms. Taylor has provided a detailed study of the Green Book the legendary travel guide for minorities in the mid twentieth century. She crosses the country taking photographs of all the locations that are either still in existence or are used for a different purpose now. She also shows Green Book cover art and excerpts over the years. I teach college level history and I learned a lot.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stormie ~ Book Dragon ~

    This is more of a statement than a review, but once I am able to read the book, then I will provide one. I am hoping to get a copy of this book and read it soon. The founder of the two museums that I volunteer at, provided some of the items for the Smithsonian exhibit and also some of the research. She has talked so much about Candacy and what her project was about, that I really want to read this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marleen

    In the not so distant past, African Americans were prevented from eating in many restaurants and staying in hotels. A whole industry developed that catered to African American travelers. The car afforded the opportunity to travel outside of the South and see other parts of the country. Unfortunately even though there were no separate drinking fountains and people did not have to go to the back of the bus, Jim Crow was alive and well in the North. Driving while black remains in issue today.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melinda M

    Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor covers a historical look at Black Travel in America. When Jim crow was the rule where could Blacks stay when they traveled? Candacy Taylor covers this topic by telling about the Green Book. The Green Book was the Black equivalent of AAA club travel book. It is well researched and an interesting read. I received a copy thru a Goodreads Giveaway.

  30. 4 out of 5

    The Pink Panther

    The Green Book was a directory for black travelers in the USA, during the mid 20th century. It listed Hotels, shops etc which welcomed black customers. This was before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. The very fact that a green book was necessary says a lot about racism in that time, and "Overground railroad" tells an extraordinary story.

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