CHICAGO — An exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum is looking back at the history of the Green Book and its connections to Chicago.
‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ Special Exhibition Gallery at the Illinois Holocaust Museum dives into the often critical, life-saving resource that the Green Book was for Black travelers during Jim Crow-era segregation and racial violence.
The travel guide, first published in 1936 by Victor Hugo Green, featured businesses, restaurants, and hotels considered safe for Black visitors in towns across the United States when travel on the open road could be a death sentence for a Black family that stops in the wrong town in the wrong state.
Noah Cruickshank from the Illinois Holocaust Museum said the exhibition highlights several listings in Chicago, many of which directed travelers to the Bronzeville neighborhood, known for decades as The Black Metropolis.
“We have pictures from around the country,” Cruickshank said. “The original Sutherland sign, it’s a place where people like Miles Davis would come and play.”
Cruickshank said the Green Book was not only a guide for protection, but a reflection of the joy, resilience and culture that developed in spite of the need for such a publication over the 30-plus years of its proliferation.
“We’re still struggling with some of the same issues,” Cruickshank said. “But there are ways people came together to provide opportunities to be safe … and thrive.”
The exhibit will be on display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum through April 23. For more information on the exhibit and other work being done by the Illinois Holocaust Museum, you can visit their website here.