In Driving While Black, acclaimed historian Gretchen Sorin reveals how the car―the ultimate symbol of independence and possibility―has always held particular importance for African Americans. In partnership with StarkFresh and The Social Justice Book Club, the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum will host a FREE virtual book talk with Sorin on April 28 at 7:00 PM. Reservations are required and can be made via Museum’s website at www.McKinleyMuseum.org. A link for the program will be sent to registered participants prior to the event.
Sorin recounts the creation of a parallel, unseen world of black motorists, who relied on travel guides, black only businesses, and informal communications networks to keep them safe. At the heart of Sorin’s story is Victor and Alma Green’s famous Green Book, a travel guide begun in 1936, which helped grant black Americans that most basic American rite, the family vacation.
Black Americans could be confident of finding welcoming establishments as they traveled for vacation or for business. Civil Rights workers learned where to stay and where to eat in the South between marches and protests. As Driving While Black reminds us, the Civil Rights Movement was just that―a movement of black people and their allies in defiance of local law and custom. At the same time, she shows that the car, despite the freedoms it offered, brought black people up against new challenges, from segregated ambulance services to unwarranted traffic stops, and the racist violence that too often followed.
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Driving While Black is a marvel. It is the work of a brilliant mind and a beautiful heart. Sorin, a professor at State University of New York at Albany, dazzles with plain language. She writes in a way that academics and laypersons will both admire. Sorin combines impeccable, exhaustive research and personal stories with a seamless elegance, somehow managing to hold the object under examination far enough away to consider it fully and close enough to really inhabit it.” ― Michael Kleber-Diggs, Minneapolis Star-Tribune