Driving While Black
Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights
By Gretchen Sorin
In Driving While Black, acclaimed historian Gretchen Sorin reveals how car- the ultimate symbol of independence and possibility- has always held particular importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the many dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. She recounts the creation of a parallel, unseen world of black motorists, who relied on travel guides, black-only businesses, and informal communications networks to keep them safe. From coast to coast, mom-and-pop guesthouses, beauty parlors, large hotels- including New York's Hotel Theresa, the Hampton House in Miami, and the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles- and nightclubs and restaurants like New Orleans' Dooky Chase and Atlanta's Paschal's fed travelers and provided places to stay the night. A the heart of Sorin's story is Victor and Alma Green's famous Green Book, a travel guide begun in 1936 that allowed black Americans to join in that most basic rite, the family vacation.