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The Green Book Gets a Showcase Moment in Houston — Invaluable Black Travel Guide Highlighted at Holocaust Museum

A Force In the Fight For Equal Rights That Opened Up the Highways to All

BY // 09.05.23

What: Preview of “The Negro Motorist Green Book” exhibition

Where: Holocaust Museum Houston

PC Moment: Candacy Taylor, curator of the 13-city traveling exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), spoke to the gathering of more than 200. Taylor shared the story of the relentless quest for freedom and safe travel for Black Americans during the Civil Rights movement and how she brought that to life in this groundbreaking new exhibition. The Green Book guide listed motels and restaurants across the country that would be welcoming.

“The Green Book was a force in the fight for equal rights,” Taylor told the throng. “It gave Black Americans permission to venture out on America’s highways and enjoy the country they helped build. When I started working on this project in 2013, most of the people I encountered had never heard of  The Green Book. I am so pleased the story is being shared across the country.”

The exhibition website encourages individuals to share on the site their stories of using the Green Book for their travels. Khambrel Marshall, KPRC Channel 2 journalist and meteorologist, joined the discussion recalling that his family used the guide for finding safe and accepting lodging during their travels.

Exxon Mobil chairman and CEO Darren Woods, curator Candacy Taylor, Holocaust Museum Houston board chair Barbara Herz, the Smithsonian's Myriam Springuel at the opening of 'The Negro Motorist Green Book' exhibition. (Photo by Hung L. Truong)
Exxon Mobil chairman and CEO Darren Woods, curator Candacy Taylor, Holocaust Museum Houston board chair Barbara Herz, the Smithsonian’s Myriam Springuel at the opening of ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ exhibition. (Photo by Hung L. Truong)

ExxonMobil, sponsor of the exhibition, continues its support of The Green Book that was crucial from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s when as Esso it was the only major retailer to distribute the valuable guide. Esso was also known as a leading employer of African American professionals during the era of the fight for equal rights. That history was shared by ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Darren Woods.

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“I’m proud of our company’s modest role in this major part of history and grateful that we made the right decisions at the right times — for the right reasons,” Woods said. “These principles are still reflected in ExxonMobil’s DNA today – as a company committed to opening doors for all people, providing access to opportunities for anyone with the talent, determination and grit to get the job done.”

Renee Logans, Leonard Morris at the opening of 'The Negro Motorist Green Book' exhibition. (Photo by Hung L. Truong)
Renee Logans, Leonard Morris at the opening of ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ exhibition. (Photo by Hung L. Truong)

In a message of support in his absence, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner pointed out that the Bayou City had 115 sites listed in The Green Book, 13 of which are still standing including the recently renovated Eldorado Ballroom. In fact, Lucille’s Hospitality Group, official manager of the ballroom, provided catering for the cocktail reception and program.

Congressman Al Green was on hand to present a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to Holocaust Museum Houston in honor of its services to the community.

Khambrel Marshall at the opening of 'The Negro Motorist Green Book' exhibition. (Photo by Hung L. Truong)
Khambrel Marshall at the opening of ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ exhibition. (Photo by Hung L. Truong)

The Green Book exhibition will be on view through November 26 with ExxonMobil sponsoring free family days on the first and third Sundays of each month.

PC Seen: Holocaust Museum Houston board chair Barbara Herz, SITE’s  Myriam Springuel, ExxonMobil Foundation president Alvin Abraham, Reneé Logans, Leonard Russell, Samantha Omey, Neely Nelson, Amy Von Walter, Page Clark, and Kim Eagles.

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