The film “Green Book” gets its title from The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide published annually from 1936 to 1966 and which listed shops, restaurants and hotels where black customers were welcome. The Green Book, as it was commonly called, can be traced back to a New York postman named Victor Hugo Green. It developed into an indispensable travel tool for African Americans driving through the USA. At first, it only covered the New York area, but it gradually began to cover almost all of North America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. It was invaluable in the USA, especially in the southern states where the Jim Crow segregation laws were interoreted differently in the various counties and states, and the inofficial rules in so-called “Sundown Towns” made it impossible for black people to be on the streets after dark. The Green Book, which was sold at Esso gas stations and through subscriptions, enabled black travellers to organise their trips in a way that avoided persecution, arrests and violence. After President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Jim Crow laws became illegal, the Green Book was no longer necessary. Publication ceased soon afterwards. Victor Hugo Green died in 1960 and did not live to see the end of racial segregation. It was his widow Alma who published the Green Book until 1966. The melodrama “Green Book” with Viggo Mortensen will be showing at KITAG CINEMAS from Thursday.
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