WELCOME to THE GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES, a documentary
… celebrating Victor and Alma Green’s travel guides for African Americans during Jim Crow (1936 – 66) through firsthand stories from over 30 people who used the Green Books to travel, had businesses listed in them or related travel experiences, with special emphasis on initiatives to honor and restore Green Book sites today.
Honoring shared American history
… our project combines live action interviews with historic photos/video and mixed-media animation.
We’re in the final stage of interviews, transitioning to post production and hoping to release the film in 2020, pending raising of finishing funds. See detailed production information and photos from our more recent shoots in Myrtle Beach SC, Birmingham AL, Washington DC, New York City NY (second time), and Newark NJ below.
Check out the OVERVIEW tab above for general information about Victor and Alma Green and the Green Books as well as our initial shoots in New York City and Atlanta GA.
Visit our Facebook Page for more updates, presentation news, and photos (button in the upper right corner of this page)
Screen our video trailer (updated January 20, 2020) via the TRAILER tab and, to help support completion with a tax deductible contribution, visit our DONATE tab.
Any amount, large or small, helps get us to the finish line!
We are ever grateful to Mary Lonergan and the Len Ragozin Foundation; Ray Curry and UAW Region 8; Associate Producers, Dr. Michael R. Ragan and Dr. Deborah V. Payton George; Curtis Graves; our Facebook fans; and the many angels who have supported us so far on this journey!
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CHECK OUT OUR “READING” and “MAPPING JIM CROW” MENU TABS ABOVE
READING: For books by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and related Green Book, Great Migration, and Civil Rights publications by other authors
“MAPPING JIM CROW”: 2:00 Motion media segment for THE GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES directed, designed, and animated by Kelly Ann Turner with an original music score by Hank Roberts and Tenzin of Lyra Music
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CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS and the Green Books
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CANDACY TAYLOR’S GREEN BOOK Projects
We are so fortunate to have interviewed cultural documentarian and Green Book specialist, Candacy Taylor, for our film while she was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, division of the New York Public Library. Further honored to learn that she included quotes from some of our film interviews in her comprehensive book, The Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America published by Abrams in January 2020!
From the Abrams press release:
“Author Candacy Taylor has done the most exhaustive research ever gathered on the Green Book… ‘As an African American woman who drives over 20,00 miles a year documenting American culture, the simplicity and the practicality of the Green Book reframed the all-American road trip for me. I hope the powerful stories and visuals collected in The Overground Railroad will build enlightened bridges between the past and the challenges African Americans continue to face while literally and figuratively moving forward in America,’ says Taylor.
In addition to the book, an accompanying exhibition is in development by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), tentatively scheduled to open in 2021.” For more information, visit taylormadeculture.com.
FREEDOM AWARDS 2019
The National Civil Rights Museum at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis TN presented their 2019 Freedom Awards on October 30, 2019 to honor “individuals for their significant contributions to civil and human rights”. Along with this year’s honorees — John Legend, Gloria Steinem, and Hafsat Abiola — the Freedom Award also payed special tribute to the GREEN BOOK, represented by cultural documentarian, author, and Green Book specialist, Candacy Taylor!
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“THE GREEN BOOK” On Stage
Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s stage play for adults, “The Green Book”, enters a new decade, from January 23 – February 23, 2020 at the Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Texas (https://ensemblehouston.com/show/the-green-book-01-22-2020) following performances in October 2019 at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center Main Stage in Decatur, GA AtlantaBTF.org This revised version premiered to nearly sold out audiences at the Red Mountain Theatre, Birmingham AL in 2017 has been staged since then at the Bunbury Theatre in Louisville KY, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center in Tulsa OK, and the Pegasus Theatre in Chicago IL.
The original play was named a finalist in the 12th Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska, in June 2004 where it was critiqued by theatrical luminaries including Edward Albee and Patricia Neal. Further readings were presented at La MaMa E.T.C. in New York, directed by George Ferencz, and Baltimore Hebrew University, co-sponsored by the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, the Baltimore Jewish Council and the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Civil Rights leader, Julian Bond, was cast in a cameo role as Victor Green when the production moved on to a reading at the restored Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC. The fully staged original version was presented to sold out audiences at Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit in 2011.
“RUTH AND THE GREEN BOOK” The Musical
A new musical play for kids is in development, based on Calvin’s children’s book of the same name and presented as an a capella reading January 17, 2019 in Harlem. Pictured below: Calvin (far right) with Civil Rights historian, Alice Bernstein (left in the red hat) and Harlem neighborhood children. Watch for news about the fully staged musical production!
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NYC SCREENING and CHICAGO PERFORMANCE
A 13:00 sample edit from our film-in-progress (edited by Kelly Rose Magnusson of Kelly Rose Productions, Atlanta) screened at the Museum of Arts and Design, NYC (3/1 through 4/8/18) as part of their show, “Unpacking the Green Book: Travel and Segregation in Jim Crow America”, running simultaneously with MAD’s featured Green Book-oriented show, “Sanctuary” by Derrick Adams. A presentation and Q and A session with Calvin, Becky, and Maira Liriano, Associate Chief Librarian from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, was held at MAD on April 5th to a sold out crowd. See photos below with more on our Facebook page.
And at the same time… Calvin Ramsey’s play, “The Green Book” ran at the Pegasus Theatre in Chicago for the month of March (2018) not long after his presentation about his Green Book projects and our film-in-progress at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, February 1st.
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Our goal is to complete a few remaining interviews in 2020, including the “Black Pearl” historically black beach in Atlantic Beach SC with listings in the Green Book as well as additional sites in Atlanta so that we can focus on post production (editing, animation, commissioning music, acquiring other photo/video/music rights, etc.) (Above: Vintage Postcard “Street Scene in Atlantic Beach”)
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INTERVIEWS: Myrtle Beach SC / December 2017
. . . focusing on the Green Book listing, Charlie’s Place/Fitzgerald’s Motel, and the initiative led by local musician and community activist, Herbert Riley, to keep the Charlie’s Place story alive, where blacks and whites were welcome, stellar musicians played and stayed (including Little Richard, Muddy Waters, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Fats Domino, among many others), shag dancing got its roots, and the KKK conducted a bloody raided in 1950.
In addition to Herbert, we interviewed Patricia Burgess about growing up next to Charlie’s Place (great to work with her son, Jay Burgess as our Myrtle Beach videographer!) and her long-time volunteer work with the historic Myrtle Beach Colored School Museum; Dino Thompson about his Greek immigrant family welcoming Charlie into their Kozy Korner cafe when other white-owned restaurants would not as well as Dino’s lifelong love of the jazz/boogie/soul music and shag dance scene at Charlie’s; City Councilman Mike Chestnut, owner of Big Mike’s Soul Food, working with Herbert to help raise awareness and funds for restoration of portions of Charlie’s Place into a combination of a museum (including a Green Book room) and small business spaces; and recent Myrtle Beach transplant, John Maloney, who was a white beat cop in a number of black Washington DC neighborhoods just after the end of the Green Book era. Maloney recounted many meals on the job with fellow black officers at iconic soul food restaurants in DC, including Ben’s Chili Bowl, adding to our Washington, DC shoot below. For more pictures, visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/greenbookchronicles.
INTERVIEWS: Washington DC / September 2017
We were honored and excited to get a second grant from the Len Ragozin Foundation, helping defray costs for our trip to Washington, DC in late September 2017 during the Congressional Black Caucus. Our primary focus was to interview Gloria and Solomon Herbert, publishers since 1994 of the award-winning “Black Meetings & Tourism” Magazine, clearly channeling the spirit and initiative of Victor and Alma Green. http://www.blackmeetingsandtourism.com
Also visited other Green Book sites in the historic U Street district and the magnificent National Museum of African American History and Culture that has a small but powerful, innovative interactive Green Book exhibit, built into half a real 1950’s car!
INTERVIEWS: Birmingham AL / July 2017
Grateful to have received a grant in late spring 2017 from the UAW Region 8, spearheaded by Raymond Curry. This helped fund our summer 2017 shoot in Birmingham, AL focusing on the A.G Gaston Motel listed in the Green Book (see below) as a prominent gathering spot for African Americans during Jim Crow as well as a headquarters for Dr. Martin Luther King and Civil Rights leaders. Bishop Calvin Wallace Woods, a “Foot Soldier” in the movement, graced us with an inspiring interview recounting his work with MLK, including the night the motel was bombed. Author Marie Sutton shared insights from her book about the Gaston and Charles Woods III (no relation to the Bishop) of The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute updated us about the Gaston’s recent designation as a National Monument with BCRI. Following up on Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s “The Green Book” play at Birmingham’s Red Mountain Theatre in February, we also interviewed Red Mountain Director, Keith Cromwell, and actor/high school sophomore, Winter Shepherd, about their personal involvement and vibrant audience reactions to the nearly sold out performances.
INTERVIEWS: New York City and Newark NJ /
Green Book specialist and cultural documentarian, Candacy Taylor, during her residency at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (For more information about Taylor’s extensive work about the Green Book, including her book, “The Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America”, to be published in January 2020 by Abrams, visit her website: http://taylormadeculture.com/the-green-book)
Above: (left) Detail from historic postcard (c. 1938) of the Hotel Dunbar, Los Angeles, built in 1928 (originally as the Hotel Somerville) and listed in the Green Book, often referred to as the Waldorf Astoria of Black America (from laconservancy.org / Thomas Safran & Associates, Coalition for Responsible Community Development) / (right) Candacy Taylor at the Dunbar; One of the handful of Green Book sites still in operation, the facility is now a senior center (photos by Abby Swanson KCRW)
Anthony Smith and Gordon Brown of Smitty’s ESSO Service Center, the first black family-owned gasoline and auto repair business in New Jersey, established in the 1930’s in Newark. ESSO gas stations were reliable sources for purchasing Green Books.
Dr. Albert Vollmer, orthodontist, born in London and raised in Sweden, co-founded The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band “in 1973 with King Oliver’s trombonist/blues singer, Clyde Bernhardt, never suspecting that it would become one of the longer continually performing jazz groups in existence… The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band has as its main concept to keep significant side-men of the Classic Jazz Period working and not forgotten. The continued quality of this group has caused the band to be declared a National Treasure and one of the most authentic Swing Bands playing today.” (quote from the HBJB website / photo still from GBC shoot, Rob Niosi, cinematographer)
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Honored to have our film featured in major publications!
See more listed below as well as the USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION tab above and in our News and Events ARCHIVE to the right:
NEW YORK TIMES article by Eve M. Kahn:
SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE article by Jacinda Townsend:
Left: Bernard Jackson (Video Preview Development / Research) from SCAD Atlanta editing footage to help develop our first Video Preview from the initial Atlanta filming. (Photo by Marty McPherson)
Above: Live action crew on location in Harlem, (l to r) Co-Producer, Calvin Alexander Ramsey; Production Assistant, TJ Jones; Director/Co-Producer, Becky Wible Searles, and Cinematographer for New York City, Newark NJ, and Washington DC shoots, Rob Niosi (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
Did YOU or anyone you know ever use the Green Book to travel or have a listing in it? If so, we’d love to hear your story to consider for this or future films.
Do you have an original Green Book? We’d love to see it!
See Contact Us above right.
Left: Calvin Alexander Ramsey (Co-Producer) and Becky Wible Searles (Director/Co-Producer) / Below: Associate Producers from Miami: Dr. Michael R. Ragan and Dr. Deborah V. Payton George
CONGRATS! To Calvin Ramsey for winning the APEX AWARD for Distinguished Service to Individuals in the Travel Industry presented by “Black Meetings & Tourism” Magazine during the 4th Annual International Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Summit & Trade Show in Miami, July 2017. http://www.blackmeetingsandtourism.com
Help support completion of this project that has grown from an initial short film into a one hour film! Any amount, large or small, will help us get to the finish line!
See our DONATE tab in the menu above to make a tax deductible contribution through our fiscal sponsors, The Len Ragozin Foundation in NYC. You can also contact us directly or visit the Green Book Chronicles page on the Ragozin site:
Heartfelt thanks to all those who donated to our Indiegogo campaign, the Len Ragozin Fundraiser, and/or have made private donations so far . . .
We love our angels !
- Check out Calvin Ramsey’s profile in HUMANS OF NEW YORK: facebook.com/humansofnewyork/photos/
- Calvin Ramsey is featured in the NEW YORK TIMES Travel section, Sunday 7/19/15 edition with an online preview here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/travel/calvin-a-ramsey-on-the-days-of-the-green-book.html
- The Washington Post interviewed Calvin for an article that ran on 8/28/13! Check it out here www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/road-guide-for-african-american-civil-rights-activists-pointed-way-to-1963-march/2013/08/27/1085a2c4-0f64-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_story.html
- Calvin talks about the Green Book on NPR’s “Travel with Rick Steves” (6/8/13) http://www.ricksteves.com/radio/program-archives.cfm
Above: Pages from the 1960 Green Book, New York Public Library / Schomburg Center online collection
To view complete Green Books online:
The Green Books Collection (approximately 25 books in the largest known collection) at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NYC (Division of the New York Public Library) / FREE TO DOWNLOAD: http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/the-green-book#/?tab=about
1949 Edition at the University of Michigan http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Race/R_Casestudy/Negro_motorist_green_bk.htm
1956 Spring Edition at the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia SC: http://library.sc.edu/digital/collections/greenbook.html
Small collections of Green Books can also be found in research archives across the country, such as the following locations in Atlanta, GA: Manuscript and Rare Book Library (MARBL) at Emory University, Auburn Avenue Library of Research on African American Culture and History, and Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library.