WELCOME! Our one hour live action with mixed-media animation documentary is in the final stage of interviews, transitioning to post production! Featuring over 30 interviews related to Victor Green’s travel guides for African Americans during Jim Crow, we hope to release the film in mid-2018 pending raising of finishing funds. See detailed production information and photos in the OVERVIEW tab above and check out our video trailer in the TRAILER tab. To help support completion, visit our DONATE tab. Any amount, large or small, will help get us to the finish line!
Visit our Facebook page (see button in the upper right corner of this page) for information about segments from our film being included in presentations at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati (Thurs. 2/1/18) and the Museum of Arts and Design, NYC (3/1 – 4/8/18). Calvin Ramsey’s play, “The Green Book” opens at the Pegasus Theatre in Chicago on March 1st for a run through April 1st.
LATEST SHOOT: Inspiring interviews in Myrtle Beach, SC in mid-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 Washington, DC just after the end of the Green Book era, recounting his many meals 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.
Above: Herbert Riley gives us a tour of what remains of Charlie’s Place and the Fitzgerald Motel in Myrtle Beach, SC. Charlie Fitzgerald and his wife, known as Miss Sara, lived in the center combination house/motel office, surround by motel rooms. Charlie’s Place supper club would have been to the right of the house. (Current photos by Jimmy E. Searles; historic Charlie’s Place photo by Jack Thompson as seen in the Myrtle Beach Colored School Museum)
COMING UP: Our goal is to complete a few remaining interviews in early 2018, including the “Black Pearl” historically black beach in Atlantic Beach, SC with listings in the Green Book and additional sites in Atlanta so that we can focus on post production (editing, animation, music rights, etc.) Pending raising of approximately $80,000 of completion funds, we will have a finished one hour film by mid-2018! (See our Donate tab above if you or your organization like to help out!)
Washington, DC Interviews, 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 and Tourism” Magazine, clearly channeling the spirit and initiative of Victor and Alma Green. 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!
Above: Historic photo from the Hotel Dumas in Roanoke, VA, listed in the Green Book, and (on the right) the Dumas today, one of the few Green Book listings still standing
Above: Animation Still by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Atlanta MFA Animation students, Ammar Nassri (Syria) and Zhou Quan (China) about traveling to New York City in the 1950’s, from “The Green Book Chronicles”, a documentary featuring live action interviews interspersed with animation and motion media segments
UAW Region 8 Grant and Interviews in Birmingham: 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. 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’s 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 performances. Photos to come!
Photos and more info on the way about our inspiring shoot in NYC in December 2016 interviewing:
- Green Book specialist and cultural documentarian, Candacy Taylor, during her residency at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (For information about Taylor’s extensive work about the Green Book, visit her website: http://taylormadeculture.com/the-green-book)
- Dr. Albert Vollmer, leader/founder of the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band
- 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.
Above: (left) 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 today; One of the handful of Green Book sites still in operation, the facility is now a senior center (photo by Abby Swanson KCRW)
Above: Historic photo of the first staff of Smitty’s ESSO Service Station, Newark, NJ circa 1930’s (photo courtesy of Anthony Smith, current owner and grandson of the original owner)
CONGRATS! To Calvin Ramsey for winning the APEX AWARD for Distinguished Service to Individuals in the Travel Industry presented by “Black Meetings and Tourism” Magazine during the 4th Annual International Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Summit & Trade Show in Miami, July 2017.
Do you want to help support completion of this project that has grown from an initial short film into a one hour documentary? Any amount, large or small, will help us get to the finish line, whether from individuals or organizations!
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!
Honored to have our film featured in major publications! See more listed below as well as in the STORIES & HISTORIES tab above (USA TODAY) and in our News and Events ARCHIVE to the right):
NEW YORK TIMES article by Eve M. Kahn:
SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE article by Jacinda Townsend:
Above left: 1956 Green Book cover, courtesy of South Caroliniana Library; Right: 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, Rob Niosi (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
Calvin Ramsey’s play THE GREEN BOOK is now available in script form via this Writer’s Union link. http://www.nwuny.org/Calvin-Alexander-Ramsey.html
Check out Calvin Ramsey’s profile in HUMANS OF NEW YORK: facebook.com/humansofnewyork/photos/a.102107073196735.4429.102099916530784/958248650915902/
- 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.
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: Becky Wible Searles (Director/Co-Producer) and Calvin Alexander Ramsey (Co-Producer) / Below: Associate Producers from Miami: Dr. Michael R. Ragan and Dr. Deborah V. Payton George
Ads from Green Books: Upper left: 1954; Above: 1947