Tuesday, January 25, 2022
1:00 pm FREE
The Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc. presents
“The Negro Motorist Green Book in Southeastern Connecticut” with Tom Schuch via Zoom
Register for Zoom Meeting:
Throughout the era of ‘Jim Crow,’ African American travelers were never assured that they would be served at restaurants, allowed to rent rooms at hotels or motels, or be allowed to purchase gasoline. Segregation and discrimination based on race were legal throughout the country. In 1937 Victor H. Green, an African American mailman in New York City, published The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide to businesses in the New York area where the patronage of Black customers would be welcome. The response was so positive that in 1938 he expanded his guide to include businesses across the nation, and beyond. Green compiled his listings by a combination of word-of-mouth and reader responses to his requests for referrals about businesses that welcomed black customers. He listed a wide variety of businesses including hotels, ‘Tourist homes’, night clubs, restaurants, service stations, and beauty parlors. The guide soon covered most US states and larger cities, as well as the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Europe. The Green Book was not the first, nor the only such travel guide, but it was the most popular and the most successful. It ceased publication with the 1966-67 edition, as the Civil Rights Movement took hold, and nation-wide laws prohibiting segregation and discrimination were implemented.
In this presentation, Tom Schuch, a native New Londoner, will demonstrate how The Green Book was much more than a travel guide: it was also a Survival Guide for Black folks in Jim Crow America; and it is a History Book, a chronicle of mid-20th Century America, North and South. While the focus of this talk is on the 10 sites that were located in New London, Tom will also discuss a number of other Green Book sites in Connecticut. In addition, he will talk about the only precursor of the Green Book, The Hackley and Harrison Hotel and Apartment Guide for Colored Travelers, which was produced in New London by Sadie Dillon Harrison in 1930, seven years before The Green Book. She developed that guide while living in ‘Hempstead Cottage’, her Tourist Home on Hempstead Street, where she hosted W.E.B. DuBois in 1929. Hempstead Cottage is not only one of the 10 Green Book sites, but it is also one of New London’s most significant Black history sites, dating back over 180 years to the antebellum period. The Green Book tells a remarkable story of who we were, and it may offer some valuable insights to help us understand where we are today.
Tom Schuch is a New London native and a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a longstanding interest in social justice issues. He retired after 38 years as executive director of a local residential facility for troubled adolescent males. He has an avid interest in history, particularly John Brown and the Civil War but, as a lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan, his area of special interest has become unknown, hidden, forgotten or suppressed local history, which is what led him to discover the Green Book sites in New London, and the stories of Ichabod Pease, and Sadie Dillon Harrison, among others.