Overground Railroad

The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America.

Overground Railroad is the first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of The Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists used for decades when traveling through segregated America.

The Green Book was hailed as the “Black travel guide to America.” During the Jim Crow era, it was both dangerous and difficult for African Americans to travel, because Black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for Black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem.

Candacy Taylor
Candacy Taylor

As a history of African American travel in the Twentieth Century, Overground Railroad is incredible, filled with great continuity and plenty of side-stories to make it come alive. Author Candacy Taylor makes it exquisitely personal with tales from her stepfather and her deep appreciation for all he’d endured, leading to other stories; how the travel industry foolishly thwarted African American travel and its buying power; how things changed; and the constant reassurance of The Green Book.

Taylor writes in her introduction, “The Green Book was published during a time when car travel symbolized freedom in America, but since racial segregation was in full force throughout the country, the open road wasn’t open to all. When Black motorists picked up a copy of The Green Book, they were greeted by the words ‘Just What You Have Been Looking For! Now We Can Travel Without Embarrassment.’”

It took courage to be listed in The Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of The Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations and systemic racism in America.

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