Without exception, each of the “cast members” we have interviewed for THE GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES have shared personal stories far beyond our expectations. What we thought would be one or two significant moments from each person turned into so many inspiring stories that it will be challenging if not impossible to include every story from every person we interviewed in one film! Heartfelt thanks to all those in front of the camera for their interviews and inspiration.
Below Curtis Graves shares more about his personal background, ranging from his family ancestry on the Evergreen Plantation up river from New Orleans to his father and uncle being the first African-Americans to own an ESSO gas station in Louisiana to Graves serving in the Texas State Legislature and beyond, coming full circle with his photography series, “Echoes of Slavery”:
Starting in 1967, Curtis Graves served for six years as the first African American Representative in the Texas State Legislature since the 1870’s. Later he went on to a career for thirty years in administration at the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA). Throughout he has been an avid photographer as well as a musician and his photography gallery can be viewed at http://www.gravesfineartphotos.webs.com.
Left: Curtis Graves’ school picture from New Orleans, 1945-46 / Right: UPI Newspaper photo with caption: “Rep. Curtis Graves of Houston, looks on as his 2-year-old daughter, Gretchen, talks on the telephone at his floor desk in the House of Representatives at Austin. The representatives have phones at their desks to keep in touch with their offices since secretaries aren’t allowed on the House floor.” (photos courtesy of Curtis Graves)
Growing up in New Orleans, Graves’ father and uncle were the first African American owners of an ESSO gas station franchise in the state and he remembers using the Green Books sold there to plan vacations. Graves writes:
Top left: Victor Haydel, born c. 1830 in Edgar, Louisiana / Top Right: Celeste B Haydel, born c. 1840 in the same town next door / Lower left: Their daughter-in-law, Josephine Honore Haydel at age 19 in New Orleans, 1900 / Lower right: Mabel, Josephine’s daughter, and Joseph Graves in 1955, Curtis Graves’ parents (photos courtesy of Curtis Graves)
Top: “Echoes of Slavery” / Below: “Evergreen’s Big House”, both from Evergreen Plantation, Louisiana (photos by Curtis Graves, Graves Fine Arts Photos)