This spring, the Washington State Historical Society is hosting the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” an exhibit developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service highlighting travel for African American motorists during the time of segregation. It’s a glimpse into the history, and the dangers, that faced African American drivers during the post-war rise of an American classic: the road trip.
From 1936 through the late 1960s, the Green Book provided African American travelers with critical information on restaurants, gas stations, department stores, accommodations, and other businesses available to them during the era of Jim Crow and “sundown towns.” (towns where Blacks were not allowed “after sundown”)
On April 9, the Black Heritage Society of Washington State, the organization that King County Metro previously worked with to develop bus shelters in the Central District , gathered at the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle for a special trip to the Green Book exhibit in Tacoma.
A trip to explore the past naturally requires a special vehicle, which Metro was happy to provide. The passengers rode to Tacoma with transit operator Robert L. Horton behind the wheel of a Metro coach wrapped in Black Lives Matter art. Horton is the artist who created the mural that is displayed on the coach!
Metro sees this partnership as an important investment in our community, and a natural expression of our True North values, particularly as they relate to racial justice, mobility as a human right, leadership, and teamwork. Recognizing this special opportunity to turn ideas into action, Metro was proud to offer this transport as a gift to the Black Heritage Society of Washington State.
The “Negro Motorist Green Book” exhibit will run through June 12 at the Washington State History Museum. For more information on the program, go to: https://www.washingtonhistory.org/exhibit/the-green-book/