The Green Book Exhibit

Community centers highlight Black life during the Jim Crow era.

Four Women & Car, National Museum of American History Archives
The Green Book provided directions to safe lodging for Black travelers. Photo: National Museum of American History Archives

Did you know that 327 businesses in North Carolina were listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book—including 13 in Buncombe County?

Published from 1936 to 1966, the book was used as both a travel guide and a tool of resistance to confront the realities of racial discrimination in the United States and beyond. Restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, beauty salons, and other types of businesses were listed in The Green Book, which identified safe “oasis spaces” for Black travelers and allowed African American businesses to thrive.

In November, several Asheville Parks & Recreation (APR) community centers host “Navigating Jim Crow: The Green Book and Oasis Spaces in North Carolina,” a traveling exhibit about sites important to, and personal memories about, African American travel using The Negro Motorist Green Book during the Jim Crow era of legal segregation.

Created by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission (AAHC), a division of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, eight vibrant panels showcase images of business owners, travelers, and historic and present-day photos of North Carolina Green Book sites. The words of African American travelers and descendants of Green Book site owners collected by the AAHC from oral histories are featured prominently in the exhibit.

“Locally, businesses like The Savoy Hotel on Eagle Street, James-Keys Hotel on Southside, Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, and other Asheville establishments played an imperative role in creating safe spaces for locals and tourists,” according to D. Tyrell McGirt, APR Director.

“We’re proud to honor their legacy by hosting this exhibit. Many elders have first-hand accounts of visiting these businesses, and even using Green Books for travel, and this is an opportunity for learning, critical thinking, and discussion for them, as well as younger generations and people who’ve never known the vital importance of such a tool.”

The self-guided exhibit is free and open to the public at these APR community centers:

November 13-17 – Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center, 285 Livingston St. 9:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

November 20-22 – Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center, 121 Shiloh Road. 9:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Green Book Listings for Buncombe County (1940-1960s)

  • Ashland Avenue YWCA, 194 Ashland Avenue
  • Booker T. Washington Hotel, 409 Southside Ave.
  • Butler’s (Madam Butler Beauty Salon), Eagle & Market Sts.
  • College Street YWCA, 360 College Street
  • Do Drop In Barber Shop, 4 Eagle Street
  • James-Keys Hotel, 409 Southside Ave.
  • Jamison Barber Shop, 211 Ashland Ave.
  • Mrs. S. Foster Tourist Home, 88 Clingman Ave.
  • Palace Grille Restaurant, 19 Eagle St.
  • Savoy Hotel/Tourist Home, Eagle & Market Sts.
  • Wilkin’s Garage, Eagle & Market Sts.
  • Wilson’s (Wilson’s Barber Shop), 13 Eagle St.
  • Wilson’s Tavern, Eagle & Market Sts.

For additional details, please visit aahc.nc.gov/green-book-project.