Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Green Book

Yesterday, Ron Warnick's Route 66 News posted a thought-provoking story about earlier times on the Mother Road in which African-Americans were generally not welcome in some of the old Mom and Pop motels (along with diners, bars, and other stops) both on and off the Mother Road.

The piece even features a link to the Negro Motorist Green Book, a publication designed to point African Americans to roadside businesses who appreciated their patronage (as opposed to many who offered a rude and sometimes deadly welcome).

I first saw this book as a display in the Smithsonian's American History Museum, and I am still amazed at this document, how it represents both the prevalent racism of an America not so far past and the ways in which some folks managed to work around its limitations.

Yesterday's inauguration highlighted to Ron, to me, and to countless others just how far this nation has come. As Barack Obama said in his address:
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed . . . and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
Prejudice, both in its overt and covert forms, has not been eradicated from our nation. But the fact that Barack Obama is now our 44th president and that publications like the Negro Motorist Green Book are rightly relegated to history allows us to be a bit more proud today.

Read Warnick's article - and download a PDF of the Green Book: My, how times have changed

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