It’s the early 1950s, and young Ruth is excited. Her parents have just bought their first family car, and it’s a beauty! Now they can drive down to Alabama to visit relatives. Having grown up in Chicago, the family has been sheltered from the Jim Crow prejudice that is prevalent in the southern states. They are shocked when they are told they cannot use “white” bathrooms, eat in many restaurants, or rent a motel room.
Fortunately, a fellow traveler shows them the Negro Motorist Green Book. It’s a book put together by a man named Victor Green. Inside are lists of safe places for negro persons – restaurants, hotels, gas stations, barber shops, parks, and other places where they will be welcomed. This makes all the difference to Ruth and her parents.
Although this book is fictional, the Green Book was very real. It was published from 1936 to 1964, the year President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill. This amazing book had lists for all the states in the U.S., as well as Bermuda, Mexico and Canada. It was as invaluable to the negro traveler of yesteryears as the map apps we use while driving today.
Although this is technically a children’s picture book, I absolutely loved it. The artwork is superb. The color and lighting are perfect, with a softness that is gentle on the eyes. The facial expressions of Ruth and her parents fit perfectly with the story of their journey through the Deep South. Although things went badly for the family, the story showed how even in dark times, good things can happen.