The first “Green Book,” introduced in 1936 by Harlem-based postman Victor Hugo Green and published until 1967, was a travel guide for African Americans traveling across the U.S.

It was widely used.

During the Jim Crow era of legalized segregation and racial violence, Black people were prohibited from using many hotels, restaurants, venues and other facilities — especially in the South.

They sought safe harbor, and the guide listed establishments of all kinds that welcomed African Americans.

The Green Book from 1940.

In 2017, the S.C. African American Heritage Commission launched the “Green Book of South Carolina,” an internet-based guide to more than 350 African-American historic and cultural sites across the state.

Next year, the project will come full circle when a hard copy version will be published by Spartanburg-based Hub City Press.

The idea is to provide travelers of every race and background with a book they can stow in the glove compartment along with their Rand McNally maps, Hub City Press Director Meg Reid said.

It will provide information on 150 to 200 sites easily accessible to the public, places of importance to Black history and culture, such as museums, historic homes and schools, memorials and monuments, installations, gardens, cemeteries, churches and former businesses.

The project is the result of a collaboration among Hub City Press, the nonprofit WeGOJA Foundation (established by the Heritage Commission), and the International African American Museum. The foundation will provide information about the sites, the museum will provide the images, and the press will put it all together.

The new volume will include a foreword by a prominent public figure yet to be identified, and an afterword about the museum, which is slated to open to the public in the spring of 2022, ahead of the book’s publication.

Dawn Dawson-House is executive director of the WeGOJA Foundation.

Dawn Dawson-House, executive director of the WeGOJA Foundation, said the earliest plans to produce a Green Book in 2017 included a hard copy version, but the costs and logistical challenges were prohibitive. The publication, as envisioned then, would require annual updates. A website would be far more flexible and cost-effective.

The site, greenbookofsc.com, still is the primary source of information for users. It includes, for example, links to Google maps and driving directions to the various locations included in the listing.

Nevertheless, she said, the printed book is a dream come true. Many travelers like to have tangible objects with them, and this satisfies that demand, Dawson-House said. It’s also a good way to present a cohesive narrative about the African American life in South Carolina.

She prefers to call it a “discovery guide,” for it can be used by anyone, not only travelers, she said.

Jannie Harriot by the historic marker at Butler High School in Hartsville. Harriot is chairwoman of the S.C. African American Heritage Commission and former executive director of the WeGOJA Foundation. She helped save the Butler High School property from development. WeGOJA Foundation/Provided

“The reason why we call it the ‘Green Book’ is, No. 1, we wanted to pay homage to the original travel guide,” she said. “It’s also about historical preservation” — for it references people, places and events that are essential to understanding the Black experience.

Joshua Parks, digital programming and community engagement specialist at the International African American Museum, is tasked with taking the photographs that will appear in the new book.

He has a head start, he said. Pursuing a master’s degree at the College of Charleston, he is researching the history of the Sol Legare community, and already has captured some images of Mosquito Beach and Seashore Farmer’s Lodge. He has also visited McLeod Plantation on James Island.

Parks said he plans to travel across the state in the coming months to take photographs of places that lend themselves to good visual representation, and that remain vital examples of the African American experience in the state.

“The building is important architecturally and historically, but you can’t really separate it from the people,” he said.

Reid said the paperback is meant to provide helpful information to people interested in visiting various sites, but it could include oral histories, context, maps and more.

The 1963-64 “Green Book,” which promised “vacation without aggravation,” included three Charleston entries:

These all were located within a district of the city where African Americans during Jim Crow owned businesses of all kinds. The commercial corridor that comprised Morris and Cannon streets was a center of Black life in Charleston, from which a dynamic middle class emerged.

The new “Green Book” soon will serve as both a reminder of the past and a document of the present, revealing not just what we memorialize, but how we do so.

This content was originally published here.

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