The Green Book: African American Experiences of Travel and Place in the U.S.

Cover of the 1940 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book created by Victor Hugo Green
Photo caption

Cover of the 1940 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book created by Victor Hugo Green.

Release of the film Green Book (2018) inspired renewed attention to the experiences of African Americans when traveling in the United States during the 20th century. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations with whole or small group analysis of primary sources and visual media to investigate the compelling question: How have the intersections of race and place impacted U.S. history and culture? Concepts such as belonging and mobility, content areas that bring geography and history together, and opportunities to construct original arguments around the significance of place, race, and U.S. history are included in this lesson. 

Guiding Questions

How did the Jim Crow era affect how African Americans traveled and worked in the U.S.?

What are the short and long term effects of the Jim Crow era on U.S. history and culture?

Learning Objectives

Students will analyze visual and text based resources to determine how and why the Green Book was used by African Americans for travel, performing, and lodging during the 20th century.

Students will employ inquiry skills to design questions, investigate sources, and organize information to compare experiences across time and place.

Students will evaluate historical and contemporary issues through a change over time lens to respond to the CQ and GQs.

Key terms: Green Book, sundown town, Jim Crow, segregation