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NAACP promotes Black businesses with Arundel Green Book

<p>The Green Book's official name was the Negro Motorist Green Book. It was a travel guide designed specifically to help African American drivers avoid establishments and parts of the country that were unwelcoming toward African Americans during racial segregation. Victor Green was the founder, an African American postal worker from Harlem. What started as a guide to New York expanded to include every single state, and even a few international destinations. It included driving tips, restaurants, businesses, and hotels, as well as barbershops, taverns and more. The book was discontinued in 1964 following the Civil Rights Act.</p> <p>You may also like: U.S. Navy history from the year you were born</p>

The Green Book's official name was the Negro Motorist Green Book. It was a travel guide designed specifically to help African American drivers avoid establishments and parts of the country that were unwelcoming toward African Americans during racial segregation. Victor Green was the founder, an African American postal worker from Harlem. What started as a guide to New York expanded to include every single state, and even a few international destinations. It included driving tips, restaurants, businesses, and hotels, as well as barbershops, taverns and more. The book was discontinued in 1964 following the Civil Rights Act.

You may also like: U.S. Navy history from the year you were born

(Victor Hugo Green // Wikimedia Commons)

It’s been 84 years since Victor Hugo Green started publishing the Green Book, but when Odenton activist Monica Lindsey found her family’s copy of the book she knew it needed to come back for Black people in Anne Arundel County.

The NAACP’s Anne Arundel chapter has been developing the Arundel Green Book for the last three years to serve as a resurrection of the annual guidebook published through 1966 for African-American road-trippers to find safe-havens during the era of Jim Crow laws.

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The spreadsheet lists more than 200 Black-owned and run businesses and organizations in the county.

As protesters boycott businesses in the county they feel don’t support racial equality, Lindsey and others are pointing to the Arundel Green Book as a source for direct alternatives to patronize instead of blacklisted businesses.

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William King, one of the Green Book’s organizers, hopes the spreadsheet can go beyond the original Green Book to be used by white people as well.

“Now that we see so many white people joining in — finally, after all these years — in protest around the country, the hope is that same energy can lead to white people consciously choosing to divest from racist businesses like Denny’s and businesses who may not do anything explicitly racist but who are economically upholding white supremacy and start uplifting Black-owned businesses,” King said.

The Arundel Green Book became a touchstone for Del. Shaneka Henson’s interns, as they spend the summer seeking out Black-owned businesses in her Annapolis district.

They tried to contact Black business owners through places like the Department of Commerce, the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation, the county’s Office of Economic Development and Annapolis’ economic policy manager — but those offices either were not allowed to segregate businesses based on race in their records or did not collect information to identify the demographic of the business owner.

“As they went up and down the line asking who was going to identify black businesses so we could support them, they were hitting walls,” Henson said. “So I directed them to the Green Book.”

In getting in touch with Black business owners around the county, her team was able to add more businesses to the list so they too can be considered for a needs assessment Henson’s office is launching next week.

Henson said she wants to find out how to support Black businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and possibly start a Black Chamber of Commerce, as other counties have.

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