Q&A with Public Scholar Candacy Taylor
“I think at this time in our country we have so many more questions about the history of race and opportunity and equality, and these issues continue to come up…So I think people are yearning for some guidance and answers about what decisions we’ve made in the past and where we are today.”
—Candacy Taylor, author of Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America, “Q&A with Public Scholar Candacy Taylor”
Candacy Taylor is an author and documentarian. The recipient of an NEH Public Scholar grant, Taylor's book, Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America, explores the role of the Green Book, a travel guide for Black Americans in the mid-twentieth century. The Green Book compiled lists of gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that served Black clientele in Jim Crow America.
- What stands out to you from Taylor's description of the events that led her to carry out this research?
- Learn more about Taylor's research process on her website. What was involved in her research? What made it particularly challenging?
- The Green Book, and Taylor's study of it, are about mobility: geographic mobility, but also social and economic mobility. How have these different kinds of mobility been related for Black Americans? What is the relationship between mobility and freedom? Between space and citizenship?
History and Social Studies
- Curriculum Unit: NAACP's Anti-Lynching Campaigns: The Quest for Social Justice in the Interwar Years (Grades 9-12): Two lessons on NAACP anti-lynching campaigns in the 1920s and 1930s provide historical background for the emergence of the Green Book in the 1930s.
- Lesson Plan: African-Americans and the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps (Grades 9-12): This lesson takes the Civilian Conservation Corps as a site of struggle for racial equality in the 1930s United States. Though African Americans were included in New Deal initiatives, they faced discrimination, segregation, and unequal treatment.
- Lesson Plan: The Green Book: African American Experiences of Travel and Place in the U.S. (Grades 6-12): Learn about the context in which the Green Book was published and why it was important for African American travelers. Use digital technologies to create and share a narrative about the Green Book.
- Lesson Plan: The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement (Grades 9-12): Explore the ways popular culture can serve as a vehicle for social justice by listening to and analyzing songs used by Freedom Riders.
- Lesson Plan: JFK, Freedom Riders, and the Civil Rights Movement (Grades 9-12): Learn more about different actors in the Civil Rights movement, including both the well-known and those who often go unnamed.
- Lesson Plan: Picturing Freedom: Selma-to-Montgomery in March, 1965 (Grades 6-12): Learn about the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights. Reflect on the modality of protest--a 50-mile march--and its significance.
Literature and the Arts
- Lesson Plan: A Raisin in the Sun: Whose "American Dream"? (Grades 9-12): Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play confronts the challenges African Americans faced when seeking social or geographic mobility--pursuing what has long been called "the American dream."