Charlotte business listed in ‘The Green Book’ still going strong

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte’s oldest Black-owned restaurant once offered places for Black Americans to visit without fear of confrontations.

“The Green Book” was a guide for Black travelers in the Jim Crow era, which listed safe hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. One of those restaurants still exists in Charlotte.

Victor Hugo Green started “The Green Book” in 1936 to give Black travelers information to keep them from “running into difficulties, embarrassments.” The book promised “assured protection for the Negro traveler” and “vacation without aggravation.”

It included a wish: “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published.”

The book covered far more than just places to eat or stay.

It included “hotels, taverns, garages, nightclubs, restaurants, service stations, automotive, tourist homes, roadhouses, barbershops, beauty parlors.”

The book listed dozens of locations in Charlotte, including the Original Chicken ‘n Ribs on Beatties Ford Road, which is still in operation.

Jermaine Blackmon’s grandfather started the restaurant in 1952.

“Not just Charlotte history, but a part of American history, and the story can’t be told without us,” he told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “I love to bring people in and share my story. I don’t thump my chest about it, but when people ask, I do let them know. I’m proud of being a part of it.”

“It’s very important. Got to get it out there,” customer Saria Little said. “Especially, when you know you got somewhere safe to go. You got … something that’s inclusive. And what ‘The Green Book’ represents, having a safe place,” customer Dontavius Matthews added.

Historic Rosedale on North Tryon Street is hosting an exhibit about the Green Book called “Oasis Spaces.”

“Of course, you had to do what you had to do to travel,” project coordinator John Cooper told Stoogenke. “We think traveling as accessible and easy, but it was not always like that.”

The exhibit is free and runs until March 15 Wednesdays through Fridays and selected Saturdays.

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