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New Petersen exhibition explores black motoring during Jim Crow


California’s Petersen Museum has opened a new exhibition that explores Black American motoring during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation. 

Held in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, the exhibition is entitled The Negro Motorist Green Book, and opened on December 16, 2023.

It focuses on The Negro Motorist Green-Book travel guide that was penned by Victor Green and first published in 1936.

For the next 30 years, Green’s guidebook advised African Americans about the safest way to navigate the US, before the Civil Rights movement took off.  

The exhibition features a variety of artefacts, images and first-hand narratives that highlight the guidebook’s significance, as well as the difficulties African American travellers encountered at the time. 

Additionally, the display also examines the growth of African American businesses and the role the guidebook played in this context. 

As a travelling exhibition, The Negro Motorist Green Book has also been displayed at the Holocaust Museum Houston and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center earlier this year.

Award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian Candacy Taylor has collaborated with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service to make the display possible. 

“This exhibition provides valuable insights into a pivotal moment in American history, and we are proud to welcome it to our museum,” said Petersen Automotive Museum executive director Terry L Karges. “Visitors will have the opportunity to explore how significant this guide was in providing community and safer travel for the Black community for three decades, and how it helped shape our history.”

The Negro Motorist Green Book will be open to the public at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles until March 10, 2024. For tickets and further information, click here

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