The first of several Virginia sites featured in the Green Book guide used by Black travelers before the desegregation of public accommodations is being unveiled this week (Oct. 12) with a history land marker at the James T. Wilson Bridge.
This Green Book Historic Signage marker commemorates the Bay Shore Hotel which was one of the sites featured in Virginia’s Green Book – an invaluable resource for Black travelers in the mid-1900s.
Delegate Mike Mullin introduced the Green Book legislation, that was signed by Gov. Youngkin into law. Historical markers will now commemorate places in Virginia that were listed in The Green Book.
Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Office of Delegate Mike Mullin (D-93), Office of Delegate Jeion Ward (D-92), the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau collaborated on the signage.
In the mid-twentieth century, African-American travelers required the same types of services as their white counterparts. The Negro Motorist Green Book’s listings were varied enough to enable young people coming to a strange city to arrive at the local YMCAs and YWCAs after finding a friendly taxicab driver at the train station while also helping families find their way to a tourist home or musicians to a suitable hotel.
For African-Americans traveling between the relative freedom of a hometown to less familiar places, the listings for gas stations, motels, and pharmacies ensured safe passage in distant towns. For guests traveling to large cities for social events, the publication helped travelers find dance halls and restaurants in a timely manner.
As time passed, The Green Book grew to include a very wide range of establishment types that answered every possible traveling need.