Episode 1: In the Time of the Green Book

From artist Derrick Adams, Sanctuary is a mixed-media collage inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book

Host Alvin Hall and associate producer Janeé Woods Weber take you on a trip from Detroit to New Orleans, stopping at locations listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book along the way. They hear stories from people who lived through the era of Jim Crow laws and segregation about the harassment they received on cross-country road trips and in their own cities.

Episode 1 transcript

Episode 2: Victor and Alma

Cover of the 1956 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book, which at that time was re-titled The Negro Travelers’ Green Book

Alma and Victor Hugo Green created The Negro Motorist Green Book to reduce the frustrations of African Americans traveling by car around the country. We visit the Schomburg Center in Harlem, New York to see the Green Book archive for ourselves and learn about the creators’ aspirations for the guide and their hope that one day they would no longer need to publish it.

Episode 2 transcript

Episode 3: Little Harlem, MS

The historical marker in Jackson, MS commemorating the Summers Hotel and Subway Lounge, which was listed in the Green Book

We head to Jackson, Mississippi where we hear local residents and a former Motown musician reminisce about the vivacity of Farish Street—the historic Black business district also known as “Little Harlem.”

Episode 3 transcript

Episode 4: Mother Wit

How did Black travelers use Mother Wit—common sense insights—to help them survive during the Jim Crow era? We hear how this intuition helped individuals and families navigate the roads, stay safe, and build networks and businesses that provided the services they were being denied.

Episode 4 transcript

Episode 5: The Nettles of Nashville

The Parthenon located in Centennial Park in Nashville, TN

We head to Nashville to trace the legacy of Jim Crow, segregation, and The Negro Motorist Green Book through different generations of one family: The Nettles. We also pay tribute to the female entrepreneurs who provided vital services to the African American community, but went unrecognized in The Green Book and throughout history.

Episode 5 transcript

Episode 6: The Elders, Living History

Selma Edmund Pettus Bridge Plaque
The Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, AL. The site of the infamous “Bloody Sunday” attack on March 7, 1965

The elders who lived through segregation pass down the wisdom and knowledge they gained as they learned to safely navigate extremely tense, frightening, and humiliating situations. In this episode we learn from their example and find ways to move forward towards a more just future.

Episode 6 transcript

Episode 7: A Place to Put It

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL is constructed of over 800 monuments, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place.

We explore the emotional legacy of The Negro Motorist Green Book and the inherited wisdom passed down from generation to generation. We also hear from some of the artists and writers of today who have been inspired by and continue the work of the Green Book.

Episode 7 Transcript

Episode 8: Preserving History

The A.G. Gaston Motel sign in Birmingham, AL
The A.G. Gaston Motel sign in Birmingham, AL

The A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama was considered top-tier lodging for African Americans and an epicenter for the civil rights movement during its heyday in the 1950s. In this episode, we learn about the preservation efforts being undertaken by communities across the U.S. to save historic Green Book locations, like the A.G. Gaston and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. 

Episode 8 Transcript

Episode 9: Ghost Towns

"Colored Entrances and Exits" by Tony M. Bingham (2020)
“Colored Entrances and Exits” by Tony M. Bingham (2020)

Places like Paradise Valley in Detroit and Idlewild, Michigan, catered to African American communities, whether it be to create a thriving district of Black-owned businesses or allow your family to take a trip where you could be comfortable and free of any harassment or prejudice. In this episode, we discover how urban renewal has affected these locations and what remains of these communities today.

Episode 9 Transcript

Episode 10: The Lorraine Motel

The iconic sign for The Lorraine Motel
The iconic sign for The Lorraine Motel

Now a National Civil Rights Monument, and best known as the site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee hosted not only civil rights leaders, but a range of famous musicians and Black celebrities during its heyday. In our final episode, we learn about the motel’s owners, Walter and Loree Bailey, the efforts to preserve it as a national monument, and its complicated legacy as a symbol of both Black excellence and immense sadness.

Episode 10 Transcript

Bonus: Two eyewitnesses to the Green Book

The Green Book, as it was commonly known, was the definitive guide for Black travelers seeking to, in the words of the guide’s creator, “travel without aggravations and embarrassments.” But what was it really like to use the Green Book as a traveling family? In this bonus episode of Driving the Green Book, host Alvin Hall and associate producer Janée Woods Weber talk with two women whose families used the guide and were eyewitnesses to the period of U.S. history covered in the podcast.