Saturday, September 3, 2016


I've been getting exposed to history that I was never taught in school. I'm learning quite a bit from a podcast (which is an internet audio “lecture” or “discussion”) called “Stuff You Missed In History Class”. That podcast covers all manner of topics, from the tasty (a history of cheese) to the silly (the West Point Eggnog Riot of 1826) to the horrific (the Tulsa Race Riot). But there are many things that just don't show up in history classes. Partly due to time, there just isn't enough time to cover everything. And partly due to a certain kind of censorship, people just don't want to talk about certain things.

But just recently while reading something on the Internet, I followed a link and learned something I hadn't before. I was reading about the Green Book. Or it's full title The Negro Motorist Green Book. It was published from 1936 to 1966 and tried to help African-American travelers in the Untied States cope with the deeply entrenched racism, in some cities legally required, of that time.

The book provided lists of places that were friendly to the African-American traveler. Hotels, restaurants, and service stations were listed. Some of the places they could stay at night were “tourist homes”. These were private residences that provided accommodations for travelers. (Almost like airbnb). It was not easy to travel while black.

Though things got better. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was enacted and many of these overt forms of racism became illegal. Which led to the final edition of the book coming out in 1966. There wasn't the same need for the book as before. (Which is not to say racism ended back then, but it became just a little harder to act upon the racism. But there's still work that needs to be done.)

History is important. It tells us where we came from. But we can't, well we could, but we shouldn't, look back at just the things we're proud of. We have to know what we did wrong in the past, and work hard to keep making things better. And it can be done. We have done it before, and we're still making progress, though it often seems too slow.

 Maybe it's time to go learn something new. I mean old. Check out “Stuff You Missed In History Class” at I think I'll download something new for my next trip to Bakersfield.

No comments:

Post a Comment