WELCOME to Our Production Website!
Check out our trailer in the VIDEO TRAILER tab above
Scroll down on this page (just past the 1947 “Hotel Carver in the Bronx” Green Book ad) to “About Our Film” for general information about THE GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES
CURRENTLY: Happy to announce that we received a grant in late spring 2017 from the UAW Region 8, spearheaded by Raymond Curry! This helped fund our recent summer shoot in Birmingham, AL focusing on the A.G Gaston Motel listed in the Green Book 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!
COMING UP: We head to Washington, DC in late September during the Congressional Black Caucus 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. Will also be visiting other Green Book sites, especially the historic U Street district.
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
- Dr. Albert Vollmer, leader/founder of the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band
- Anthony Smith and Gordon Brown of Smitty’s Service Center, the first black family-owned gasoline and auto repair business in New Jersey, established in the 1930’s in Newark
Stay tuned for more about upcoming shoots this fall to wrap up our interview production in other Green Book sites including the 1950’s KKK raid of Charlie’s Place in Myrtle Beach, SC as well as the gorgeously restored Hampton House in Miami, FL and photo documentation of Green Book sites in Atlanta. On-going research about other sites, gathering music (from sources such as the amazing Music Makers Foundation), acquisition of vintage video clips, and additional animation production continues as we transition to post production!
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 and to the right in our News and Events Archive):
NEW YORK TIMES article by Eve M. Kahn:
SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE article by Jacinda Townsend
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 live action documentary with animation
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 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): 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
ABOUT OUR FILM
THE GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES:
Connecting with Victor Green’s Travel Guides for African-Americans 1936-67
This live action documentary with animation aspires to be “Ken Burns + NPR StoryCorps + mixed-media animation”. Co-produced by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Becky Wible Searles (Director), the film is inspired by Ramsey’s extensive research and creative projects focusing on the 1936-67 travel guide series, “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, expanded in later years of publication to include international destinations and renamed “The Negro Travelers Green Book”. Currently in production as a one hour film, the live interviews, motion media, and animation segments explore a range of personal experiences connected to this little known Civil Rights era story. Aiming for middle and high school audiences as well as adults in general, the goal is to complete the project in early 2018 with the help of grants, sponsorship, and private donations. (See our DONATE tab above for more information.)
Published by Harlem-based U. S. Post Office letter carrier, Victor H. Green, between 1936 and 1967 as a travel guide for African-Americans during the days of Jim Crow laws, the “Green Book” listed the addresses of tourist homes, gas stations, restaurants, beauty parlors, and other establishments that welcomed African-Americans during times when many others did not. Even outside the deep South, travel could be inconvenient, embarrassing, or even dangerous if you were not white. The books were available at ESSO gas stations and other African American-friendly businesses, even including some white-owned establishments. Interestingly there were no phone numbers listed in the book, only addresses, so patrons would simply show up and be invited in, somewhat like a 20th century Underground Railroad.
Above: Victor H. Green (c. 1955) and Green Book page excerpts with sign artwork by Dan Rodda
For more about the connections between the Green Books, ESSO gas stations, and the U. S. Post Office, visit our “Stories and Histories” tab above, including personal family reflections by one of our interviewees, Curtis Graves. See “Scenes from the GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES Interview Sessions” below for more about some of the many other stories shared with us.
The first round of interviews in Atlanta featured people whose families had listings in the Green Book, used the Green Book to travel, and/or shared related Jim Crow era travel stories. (See photos below for details.) Filming continued in New York City, focusing on the Jacob Lawrence “Migration Series” at the Museum of Modern Art, with curator Leah Dickerman; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture with Associate Chief Librarian Maira Liriano featuring their collection of Green Books (known to be largest in existence); and several other locations in Harlem including legendary jazz club, Minton’s as well as exteriors of both Victor Green’s former publishing office and apartment (Green lived across the street from Duke Ellington). We were also honored to meet Ramona Green, niece by marriage of Victor Green, and her grandson, Brian Green. Ramona’s father-in-law, William, co-published the Green Books with his brother Victor, for a time.
Our New York shoot even included a surprise visit from Howard Glener, son of the printer of the Green Books from the 1930s-40s, who remembers meeting Victor Green as a child! Mr. Glener and his wife, Lyla, had read the New York Times article about our upcoming shoot at the Schomburg and made a point to find us so he could share his connections to Victor Green and the Green Books.
Above top: Director/Co-Producer Becky Wible Searles and Co-Producer Calvin Ramsey meet Ramona Green (niece by marriage of Victor Green) and Ramona’s grandson, Brian Green, before the shoot at the Schomburg Center; Lower left: Associate Chief Librarian Maira Liriano reviews the Schomburg’s extensive collection of Green Books with Becky; Lower right: Ramona and Brian see the Schomburg collection for the first time (photos by Jimmy Searles)
Above: Mural from Minton’s in Harlem, NYC, originally known as Minton’s Playhouse, jazz club and bar on the first floor of the Cecil Hotel, featuring jam sessions in the 1940’s that gave birth to the new sound of bebop (photos above and below by Jimmy E. Searles)
Left: Calvin gets ready to interview Leah Dickerman, Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC about Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series”
Below: One of 60 paintings from Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series” at the Museum of Modern Art
Our original New York team consisted of Rob Niosi (Cinematography / Audio), Jimmy Searles (Research / Photography), and TJ Jones (Production Assistant) with post production in Atlanta by Zach White (Editor), Beau Jimenez (Audio), and John Peterson (Colorist). Original music for the “Mapping Jim Crow” animation was created by Hank Roberts and Tenzin of Lyra Music. Additional animation and artwork elements are currently in progress by Atlanta artist/animator, Kodi Bobo, and motion graphics artist, Kelly Turner.
With the initial intention of creating a short film, this project was started in late summer of 2012 by several student teams, eventually totaling 30 students in TV Producing, Animation, and Motion Media courses at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Atlanta campus under Animation Professor Becky Wible Searles’ direction, with pro bono help from professionals: Professor James Arnold (SCAD Atlanta Film and TV / TV Producing), Jimmy E. Searles (Research / Photography), Professor Sandro Imperato (SCAD Atlanta Motion Media), and Marty McPherson (Production Photography). The next year saw contributions by 25 students from the SCAD Atlanta Illustration department, coordinated by Professors Rick Lovell and Mike Lowery. The experience provided powerful “real world” subject matter for student assignments, aiming for completion of a short film. However, over time the tremendous out-pouring of more stories than we could ever imagine along with an explosion of interest in this subject called for a regrouping to support expanded production to a one hour film with professional crew…. which is where we are now.
Above: Calvin Alexander Ramsey and his award-winning children’s book (photo by Calvin Alexander Ramsey)
Calvin Ramsey’s creative journey with the Green Book began when he wrote a fictional stage play by the same name that premiered to sellout audiences at Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit (www.theatricaloutfit.org). The play was named a finalist in the 12th Annual Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska, in June 2004 where it was critiqued by theatrical luminaries such as Edward Albee and Patricia Neal. Further readings were staged 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 included in a cameo role as Victor Green when the play moved on to a reading at the restored Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC.
Translating the material for a younger audience, Ramsey wrote his award-winning children’s book, “Ruth and the Green Book”, with illustrations by Floyd Cooper. In 2011, Jon Ludwig, Artistic Director of Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts, collaborated with Calvin to turn the children’s book into a theatrical production at CPA that combined live actors, puppets, and animation, including original music by S. Renee Clark and a video-taped afterword by Georgia’s Congressman John Lewis (www.puppet.org/perform/ruthgreenbook.shtml).
Becky took a large group of SCAD Atlanta Animation students to see “Ruth and the Green Book” at the Center for Puppetry Arts, met Calvin, and invited him to come speak to students at SCAD about being an author and playwright. Eventually Calvin asked Becky, “Any interest in making a short documentary together interviewing people I know who have used the Green Book?” and she happily answered, “Sure, as long as we can include some animation!”
Becky has been a professor of animation at SCAD , first for 7 years in Savannah and now in her 8th year on the Atlanta campus. She owned her own production company in New York City for 14 years, specializing in clay, stop motion, and mixed-media animation, often combining it with live action for clients such as Nickelodeon, National Geographic, AT&T, Showtime, and Kool-Aid and can be seen on camera in two episodes of the PBS series “Reading Rainbow”. She is also a mixed-media sculptor and collaborates with her husband, Jimmy, recently forming Piktoglyph LLC for a variety of art, film, and writing projects. Becky grew up in northern Ohio, hearing that family ancestors had owned a tavern on Lake Erie that was a stop on the Underground Railway.
Scenes from GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES Interview Sessions
(Production Note: Many of the interviews are shot on green screen in a studio so that other backgrounds, such as photographs, maps, etc. can be added into the final composite, similar to techniques used for combining TV studio weather reporters with background maps and graphics)
Above: World War II veteran, Wilbert Verrett, and his wife, Dr. Joyce Verrett, talk about using the Green Book in 1964 to find Crosby’s Motel for their honeymoon in Pensacola, FL (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
While shooting exteriors in Harlem, we met artist Paula Wynter, who asked us what we were doing. When we told her we were making a film about the Green Book, she said her family used it to travel & agreed to be interviewed on the spot! Her stories were so powerful we have been providing them as clips for Calvin’s radio interviews.
Left: Paula Wynter getting ready for her impromptu interview for the film with Calvin (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
Above: Calvin Ramsey (left) interviews Charles Yarbrough in his home in Harlem (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
Above: Ambassador Theo Britton shows his recent Congressional Gold Medal (highest civilian award in the United States) for diplomatic service, including being a Marine in World War II and the first American Ambassador to Barbados and Grenada (photo by Marty McPherson)
Above: Freddye and Jake Henderson outside of Henderson Travel, Atlanta, the first accredited African-American owned travel agency in the United States, opened in 1955 (photo courtesy of the Freddye Henderson Archives, Auburn Avenue Research Library, Atlanta)
Above: SCAD TV Producing student, David Howell, helps Shirley Henderson Coleman get ready for her interview about Henderson Travel Agency, owned by her parents (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
Above: SCAD TV Producing student, Bernard Jackson, reviews and logs some of the over seven hours of initial interview footage to prepare for editing. On the left screen is Gary Kirksey speaking about his grandmother, Mary Jackson’s house in Alliance, Ohio that was listed as a tourist home in the Green Book. On the right screen, Curtis Graves, first African American Representative in the Texas State House since the late 1800’s, shares stories about using the Green Book from his father’s ESSO gas station to travel to Miami; You can see more about Curtis Graves’ personal stories in the “Stories and Histories” tab above. (photo by Marty McPherson)
Above: Phillis Holliday talks about traveling internationally through her job at United Airlines in the 1960’s (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
Above: Calvin Ramsey interviews Wellington Cox Howard II about his grandmother, Ethel Cox, who owned a home in Indianola, MS that was listed in the Green Book for tourists (photo by Marty McPherson)
Above: SCAD Atlanta TV Producing students taking a break in the SCAD TV production studio while assisting with interview shoots, audio recording, research, and logging over seven hours of initial footage for “The Green Book Chronicles”, supervised by Prof. James Arnold. From left to right: Morgan Dixon, Kelly Rose Magnusson, Lance White, Layla Harleston, David Howell, Bernard Jackson, and Ben Tincher (not pictured: Alejandra Morales) (photo by Becky Wible Searles)
Above: Completed animation still by SCAD Atlanta MFA students, Jeff MacDonald and Daniele Paulet, combining 2D rotoscoped animation with vintage postcards. (For more about this process, see the “Animation” tab)
Above: SCAD Atlanta MFA Animation students holding vintage postcards they used to create travel animation segments for “The Green Book Chronicles” as part of Prof. Becky Wible Searles’ “Drawing in Motion” course; From left to right back row: Zhou Quan (China), Chivaun Fitzpatrick, Jenna Zona, Ammar Nassri (Syria), Jeff MacDonald, Danielle Paulet, and Colin Wheeler; From left to right, front row: Princy Peuse (India), Calvin Ramsey, and Seungbin Ahn (South Korea) (photo by Becky Wible Searles)
Above: SCAD Atlanta students take a break from editing, color correcting, and compositing backgrounds for the initial Video Preview interview segments in Motion Media Professor Alessandro Imperato’s “Cinematography and Editing” class; From left to right: Injae Lee (Korea), Britt Lyle II, Professor Alessandro Imperato, Reggie Harrison, and Evleen Huang (China) (not pictured: Sarah Shipman) (photo by Marty McPherson)
Above left: Production Photographer, Marty McPherson, chats after the shoot with Ambassador Theo Britton (photo by Jimmy E. Searles)
Above right: Jimmy E. Searles (Research and Photography) works with Director/Co-Producer, Becky Wible Searles, to plan a segment edit (photo by Marty McPherson)
Above left: Sketch of Director Becky Wible Searles by SCAD Atlanta MFA Animation student, Tres Swygert / Above right: From SCAD Atlanta Film and TV / TV Producing, Professor James Arnold adjusts the video control panel for the interview shoots (photo by Marty McPherson)
Stay tuned for more pictures and updates! Your comments are welcome.