The NC African American Heritage Commission – a division of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources – has created a new traveling exhibit that will hit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Downtown Greensboro in March.
The exhibit features sites important to African American travel during the era of legal racial segregation known as “Jim Crow”.
The exhibit will be on display at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro from Tuesday, March 3 to Wednesday, April 22.
A Saturday, Feb. 29 press release states that the inspiration for the exhibit came from “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a book that was published between 1936 and 1966 as both a travel guide for African Americans and as “a tool of resistance designed to confront the realities of racial discrimination in the United States and beyond.”
The travel guide that focused on African American’s listed over 300 businesses in North Carolina, including restaurants, hotels, tourist homes, nightclubs and beauty parlors in the three decades that it was published.
The March and April exhibit will highlight a complex statewide network of business owners and “Green Book” sites that allowed African American communities to thrive – and that created “oasis spaces” for a variety of African American travelers.
Some people may know about the “Green Book” from the highly popular 2018 movie of the same name. That film, which dealt with racial issues, drew a lot of praise from critics after it’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the People’s Choice Award. However, the film was later criticized by some who said it wasn’t an honest depiction of history and called it a “whitewashing sham.”
As part of the exhibit coming to the civil rights museum, displays will showcase images of business owners, travelers, and historic and present-day images of North Carolina “Green Book” sites.
The words of African American travelers and descendants of “Green Book” site owners are featured prominently in the exhibit. All of the stories are from oral histories collected in 2018 and 2019.
A similar exhibit will be on display in Durham – though those dates are a little different than the Greensboro dates – and later in the year both versions of the exhibit will tour the state’s African American cultural centers, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, history museums, historic sites and libraries.
Several events will coincide with the launch of the exhibit, including free screenings of the Smithsonian Channel documentary “The Green Book Guide to Freedom” in Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh, and a music event at Hayti Heritage Center in Durham that will pay tribute to the clubs, bars and restaurants featured in the book’s North Carolina listings.
For more exhibit tour dates and event details, you can visit https://aahc.nc.gov/green-book-project or call (919) 814-6516.
In part, the exhibit was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.