[image-1]For 30 years, the Negro Motorist Green Book served as a guide to African-American travelers hoping to navigate cities and towns during the Jim Crow era. Now, a new online travel guide aims to steer visitors to South Carolina’s most significant African-American cultural sites.
Launched by the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission, the Green Book of South Carolina provides an online resource to more than 300 heritage sites and cultural attractions across the state. Available at greenbookofsc.com, users can access the guide on their smartphones and search an alphabetical list of nearby cultural sites or scour an interactive map to pinpoint their next destination. Search categories include historic churches, schools, cemeteries, and other attractions — and sites must have a spot on the National Register or have a state historic marker in order to be included.
[content-1][image-2]The new travel guide takes its name from the original Green Book, first published in 1936, which listed motels, restaurants, and other travel sites that would safely accommodate African Americans traveling during the Jim Crow era. More than 50 years since the last edition of the Green Book was published, a study conducted last fall by the University of South Carolina’s SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism estimated that African-American tourists have an economic impact of almost $2.4 billion in South Carolina.
“The Green Book of South Carolina helps expand tourism’s impact in the Palmetto State, which is now a $20.2 billion industry,” said Dawn Dawson-House, a member of the state’s African American Heritage Commission, director of corporate communications at the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, and adviser to the project. “We’re inviting travelers to venture off of highways to explore sites along their travel routes, to amplify the economic impact for all of these African-American heritage sites and the municipalities in which they are located, and to provide an immersive experience of South Carolina African-American culture.”
An affiliate of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission is one of two such state commissions in the nation — the other belonging to North Carolina. The group’s focus is on promoting and preserving African-American heritage across the state, a goal commission members believe will be aided by the creation of the Green Book of South Carolina travel guide.
“The development of the mobile guide perfectly aligns with our organization’s mission to identify and promote the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings, and culture of the African American experience in South Carolina,” said Jannie Harriot, vice chairperson of the S.C. African American Heritage Commission. “There has long been a need for a travel tool like the Green Book of South Carolina.”