Old book becomes a new discovery for most

Old book becomes a new discovery for most
Iris Lawrence, Amarillo native who live during the Jim Crow Era
Iris Lawrence, Amarillo native who live during the Jim Crow Era
The Green Book
The Green Book
Candacy Taylor, author who is currently researching Green Book locations
Candacy Taylor, author who is currently researching Green Book locations

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - An old book used over 50 years ago is now being re-discovered and highlights some of Amarillo's history.

It's called The Negro Motorist Green Book. It's an old traveler's guide for African Americans during the Jim Crow Era that uncovered safe havens all across the country, Some in Amarillo.

"When we would go out of town to California, we would stop along the Route 66 but there were several places that we could not go to the restroom," said Amarillo native, Iris Lawrence.

That was a common situation Lawrence and her family experienced far too much way back when.

"My dad would stopped at a restaurant service station and the man told him he did not have any restrooms for colored here," said Lawrence.

Her family weren't the only one's. For black Americans traveling by car in the era of segregation, the open road presented serious dangers.

"To travel black, if you will, in that time period meant that you had to be a savvy traveler," said West Texas A&M University Professor, Dr. Nick Gerlich. "You had to know where you could go and where you weren't welcomed."

Beginning in 1936,  a New York mailman named Victor Green wrote and distributed The Green Book. This was not your average AAA guide, providing hot spots for travel. This was actually a life saver for black folks during heights of segregation for 30 years.

"This was their safety, this was their guide book, it was their bible to travel across America," said Gerlich.

The book included everything from gas stations that would serve blacks, to restaurants, barber shops, and hotels.

Amarillo made it's first appearance in the early 50's with about 15 locations just north of downtown, many of them taverns and drug stores. None of those spots exist today -- but Lawrence says she knew some of these areas.

"There was one place over on 6th street that my family would go to to get barbeque but he would have to go to the back to get the barbeque even though he paid his money for it," said Lawrence.

New editions of The Green Book came out every year until the mid 60's. So, how is it a book that circulated for three decades relatively unknown today?

Author Candacy Taylor from LA is currently doing research on The Green Book. She plans on visiting every location published and write a book about it. She's working to make sure Victor Green's efforts to keep black motorist safe does not continue to go unnoticed.

"It's a piece of our history that's been largely lost until now," said Taylor. "I also think it's a reminder of where we were."

While The Green Book is no longer needed, Taylor says its a reminder of how far we've come and much more we need to accomplish.

"Racism is still with us," said Taylor. "I think The Green Book is such a great opportunity for us to revisit and reengage with that history so we can really understand what we did right and what we still need to do."

Something Lawrence hopes is in the near future.

"Until we get together and accept each other it's not going to make much of a difference," said Lawrence. "Our faith and our determination to make things better not just for blacks but for the world."

To learn more about Candacy Taylor's research, click here.

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