Group working to preserve Green Book safe spaces in North Carolina

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For three decades, the Negro Motorist Green Book helped African-Americans find a safe place to eat and sleep while traveling during segregation.

“It has a whole listing of where African-Americans could go,” said Lisa Withers, who is working on a statewide project to find the safe places and preserve their stories. “There was 14 in Guilford County; 11 in Greensboro, two in High Point and one in Stokesdale.”

The Green Book brought many entertainers, including James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Ike and Tina Turner and Ray Charles, to stay at the Magnolia House on Gorrell Street.

The directory, started by postal carrier Victor Green in Harlem, New York, ran from 1936 to 1966. The publication has become the basis of the recent award-winning movie “Green Book.”

“As people caught on, they started submitting submissions,” Withers said. “That’s how the Green Book grew to a national and even international publication.”

Through those years, 327 places in North Carolina were listed and Withers is hoping people will remember those places and stories.

“It’s the stories that we find so appealing that gravitates us toward history,” she said.

The African American Heritage Commission is spearheading the project. They hope to create an online database of safe places and preserve stories from local people. If you have a Green Book, or a connection to one of the safe places, contact Lisa Withers at lisa.withers@ncdcr.gov. You can also email the project at greenbooknc@ncdcr.gov.

For more information on the project, click here.

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