TWB – Traveling While Black

28 Dec

As we all know traveling for Blacks during the Jim Crow era could be very difficult. Not all establishments catered to Blacks and finding the right establishments could be tricky. The last thing you wanted to do was stop at a Whites Only restaurant in an unfamiliar town and cause yourself some trouble. Because of this, the Negro Motorist Green Book was published as a guide to help Blacks know which establishments were friendly to them. As I checked through the 2 copies of the Green Book that I was able to find online I did not find any entries for West Tennessee towns. I did find entries for Memphis, TN in both copies.

In 1949 you could receive service at the following locations while in Memphis, TN

The Negro Motorist Green Book 1949

The Negro Motorist Green Book 1949

If you happened to be traveling through Memphis in 1956 you could visit the establishments below

Negro Motorist Green Book 1956

Negro Motorist Green Book 1956

Notice the Lorraine Motel on the listing for 1956? This is the same motel were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Although there are no entries for our favorite West TN towns I wonder what hotels Blacks could stay at in our area or if there were even any hotels that catered to Blacks in this area.


– Tiffany

Source: The Negro Motorist Green Book


2 Responses to “TWB – Traveling While Black”

  1. rodneyelam50 December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    How many of those businesses are still around?

    • Tiffany January 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      Thanks for commenting. The only one of these businesses that I have found that is still around is the Lorraine Motel, but it is currently the National Civil Rights Museum. It was still an active motel up until the late 1980s. Rumor has it that you could slip the night guard a few dollars and he would let you into the room that Dr. King used while staying there.

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