During the Jim Crow era, traveling throughout the U.S. freely and without worry wasn’t possible for Black travelers. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for Black travelers to encounter prejudice, price gouging, and even physical violence as they tried to navigate “sundown towns” and various segregation laws and restrictions. These limitations meant that places that served Black patrons weren’t easy to come by—and it’s not as if you could just pull out your smartphone and Google for one.
To make traveling the U.S. safer and easier for Black people, starting in 1936 Victor Hugo Green published what became known as The Negro Travelers’ Green Book. The Green Book provided a list of lodgings, restaurants, and service stations that served Black patrons, which helped to improve their safety and the treatment they experienced.
Black travelers today have much more freedom and flexibility to travel—without requiring guidance from the Green Book. And now Black travelers have increased economic spending power to dedicate to travel. According to MMGY Global, Black U.S. travelers spent more than $129 billion on leisure travel worldwide in 2019.
In the spirit of the Green Book and the destinations to which it guided its readers, we’re highlighting a few notable places to visit today for travelers, especially Black history enthusiasts.
Five Points is considered by some to be the “Harlem of the West” due to its long history with jazz. It was the first predominantly Black neighborhood in Denver, and today it’s a diverse arts, culture, and entertainment district rooted in Black history.
The Black Cowboy Museum
The Black Cowboy Museum in the Houston suburb of Rosenberg preserves the legacy of America’s Black cowboys. Step into the boots of Bass Reeves, Nat Love, and Bill Pickett, or meet the important Black cowboys who will shape the future of the West.
New York City
African Burial Ground National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. The landmarked site denotes the historic role slavery played in building New York.
Also, check out these Black-owned bookshops:
Eso Won Books, Los Angeles
Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery, Chicago
Mahogany Books, Washington, D.C.
We encourage you to learn more about the history of the Green Book, how it developed over the 30 years it was published, and the places you might be able to visit today.
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