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Special Issue Articles

Vol. 3 No. 1 (2021): Im/Mobilities in American Culture

Navigating Hostile Terrain with the Green Book: Race, Im/Mobility and a Travel Guide for African Americans during Segregation

Submitted
April 30, 2019
Published
2021-12-29

Abstract

Drawing on a combination of literary, cultural and mobility studies, this article analyzes the narrative and rhetorical strategies of the Green Book travel guides (1936-1966) to illuminate the ways the guide encouraged black mobility and challenged the existing conditions that curtailed such travel. Examining different dimensions of mobility allows for a better understanding of the significance of the Green Book as not just a response to its time and a guide to keep African American traveler safe but also an understanding of its role in (re)shaping landscapes, representations and practices of black travel. The article argues that the Green Book mobilized African Americans, both in a physical way but also in the sense that it textually and visually created representations and narratives of black mobility that had the potential to change individual as well as societal perceptions of African American travelers. It deconstructs white conceptions of travel and integrates black travelers into tourist discourses that were dominated by images of white travelers. As such then, the Green Book rendered quotidian acts such as travel and vacation into political acts and forms of resistance.

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