Between 1900 and 1964 Los Angeles attracted a sizeable influx of African American tourists and new residents. While race relations may have been better than in the regions from which many of them came, they found a geography of racial restrictions on where they could find tourist lodgings and permanent places to live. A number of guidebooks for African American travelers were published, most famously the annual Green Books, informing readers of the roadside accommodations that would cater to people of color. An analysis of the guidebooks’ entries for Los Angeles, 1930–1964, provides insights on the changing nature of racial discrimination there. Many of the structures they listed are still extant and deserving of commemoration.
Racial Dynamism in Los Angeles, 1900–1964: The Role of the Green Book
Frank Norris, is a Los Angeles native now living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a National Park Service historian associated with the agency's National Trails Intermountain Region office, which has a role in administering the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program (https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/rt66/route-66-and-the-historic-negro-motorist-green-book/). In the course of researching an earlier article, “Courageous Motorists: African American Pioneers on Route 66,” New Mexico Historical Review 90:3 (Summer 2015): 293–332, he was intrigued to notice that (1) Los Angeles attitudes toward African Americans seemed to always be changing, and (2) Los Angeles has a remarkable, but largely unknown, inventory of standing Green Book structures—silent witnesses to the city's mid-century racial attitudes. The current article explores those discoveries.
Frank Norris; Racial Dynamism in Los Angeles, 1900–1964: The Role of the Green Book. Southern California Quarterly 1 August 2017; 99 (3): 251–289. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/scq.2017.99.3.251
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