Candacy Taylor 2019-06-04T04:22:08+00:00

Project Description

Candacy Taylor

Candacy Taylor is an award-winning author and cultural documentarian. She is currently a non-resident fellow at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University with Henry Louis Gates Jr. Taylor’s work has been featured in over 50 media outlets including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Atlantic, PBS Newshour, BBC, USA Today, The Wall St. Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian UK, Universal Studios, and NPR.

Her book, Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America will be released by Abrams Books in January of 2020. Taylor is the only person to have been awarded an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress twice. The Smithsonian will tour her Green Book exhibition for three years beginning in June of 2020.

This project has been commissioned and funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Park Service, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and National Geographic. For more information about her projects visit –

About the Program


This multimedia speaking engagement will be based on Candacy Taylor’s book and exhibition on the Negro Motorist Green Book. The “Green Book” was a travel guide that was published for black people during the Jim Crow era. It listed practically every type of business that black motorists needed on the road including: hotels, restaurants, drugstores, nightclubs, beauty shops, liquor stores, tailors, and even doctors.

While conducting research for this project Taylor created a database of nearly 10,000 Green Book businesses. She drove approximately 50,000 miles to nearly 4,000 listings and photographed over 150 sites. In addition to examining the history of the Green Book, the presentation will cover some of the following topics:

  • Driving While Black –The second wave of the Great Migration was underway while the Green Book was published and over 1.5 million black Americans fled the Jim Crow South during the years the Green Book was in publication. The talk will feature significant Green Book sites in the cities where black people migrated such as New York City, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. The talk will also cover the preparation and safety methods black motorists used to stay alive on the road and how those tools have evolved today.
  • The Roots of Route 66 – Driving the Mother Road was challenging and often dangerous for black Americans. Nearly half of the counties on Route 66 were sundown towns, and tourist sites such as Fantastic Caverns, a drive-through cave in the Ozarks, was run by the Ku Klux Klan. This presentation will feature the Green Book sites that protected them from harm including a five-story cafeteria and recreation spots such as Murray’s, a Negro Dude Ranch in the middle of the Mojave desert.
  • Green Book Music Venues – There were over 350 nightclubs in the Green Book. Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles and others played in legendary Green Book venues such as the Savoy and Smalls Paradise in Harlem, and Charlie Fitzgerald’s nightclub, which was shot up by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s.
  • Women and the Green Book – Women were a major contributor to the success and longevity of the Green Book. In the late 1950s, the guide was predominately run by women and there was an extensive variety of female-run Green Book businesses including beauty salons, hotels, nightclubs, tourist homes, and even a funeral home and a sex club.
  • The Green Book and the Double Edged Sword of Integration – Although the Green Book was a powerful solution to the horrors of segregation, integration was the catalyst that caused the demise of most Green Book businesses. The types of businesses that were listed in the guide dramatically decreased once more black people were able to patronize places they had previously been denied service. Although integration was what most Americans wanted, the black business community was decimated and as a result the majority of the black-owned businesses in the Green Book fell into decline and closed. One patron of the Hampton House, a Green Book site in Miami that hosted Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King summed it up when she said,
    “We got what we wanted, but we lost what we had.”