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tv   Traveling While Black  CSPAN  April 20, 2019 6:48pm-7:01pm EDT

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is more than a nuisance. it can bring on bacterial infections, cause fatal pneumonia, and in some cases, encephalitis, inflation of the brain. each case needs good medical care. our look at rochester, minnesota continues. history we drop by the center of olmsted county to watch its recently launched "traveling while black" exhibit. >> the history center look at history and providing information to help people have a better understanding of environmental circumstances and different times. we can learn an awful lot by looking at our history, and then
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we do not have to repeat the same thing. modernften hear about travel, we hear about travel in the 1950's, especially the story of african americans during this time as well and the additional hardships they faced along with hardships of traveling by car at that time. st. louis, and i had grandparents who lived in mississippi. and my dad would take us down to relativesto visit our , and when i was 11, my mother died. and the next year, a gentleman was killed. till in the till -- emmett till was a year younger than i was cured he was told "there are certain
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things you should not do," like i was told there are certain things you should not do. and i learned that the color of your skin could make a difference in whether or not you were killed. a traveleen book is guide. you think about travel guides , you go a little bit further, and it shows african americans where they could get service and where they could not get service. this is important to this time, jim crow laws,8 which prevented african americans from going into certain places. segregation was in effect at this time, so the green book offered a guide of where they could go. it started off in new york city. victor hugo green is the publisher of the green book and founder of green book. he kind of got the ideavin of just traveling himself in the new york city area and trying to figure out the best locations he could have and realized that were alwaysicans
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reporting the places they would go, and so this became a more formal, laid down version of that. lists green book different places that african americans could get service come anywhere from hotels to gas ,tations to restaurants different things he would need when you are traveling, and the green book would just list them by state and area, and most people would use the green book in advance of their trip and route, stop at certain sites, and it had an audience that you could make adjustments. : george i guess it is a matter of survival. you were told that you did not go certain places, and if it was a white place, you did not go anyway. they would make sure you did not go your there were signs on the door that said "white only." these signs are important because they know people were
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very, very serious. this was in mississippi. we were told it is not a good idea to do it, and you did not do it. kevin: starting in the late 1940's and going into the 1950's, travel in america took off. nationwide travel become a real thing that most americans could do. up until this point, the only trouble you could do was by train or boat across america, but in the 1950's, via airplanes and cars, and cars for most americans became the major way to travel. the new highway system allows americans to travel anywhere. cars ran a little bit slower back then, and then there were challenges with cars. cars often overheated, you would get black tires, the roads themselves would often have potholes, which caused more flat tires. americans also had additional challenges in that
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they would not welcome you many andes due to jim crow laws, also downtown, which african americans were not allowed in at the time. george: when i was growing up, two orer was working three jobs, and i thought he knew most things, and i said to him "dad, why are white people so mad at us?" and he said "george, that is just the way it is." " i am notght, "wow, upset enough to hurt you or to do bad things. i did not understand. "that is just the way it is." society at that time. that was the way things happened at the time. that i had to learn to do what is required. -- and i still ask
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that question. i still don't know why people are so upset that they could see you walk by and want to hurt you or kill you. kevin: african americans often times, andn difficult it was not just in the south, it was also in the north. many times they would be pulled over, asked about why they are traveling and even if it was their vehicle. they would be equaled over, asking them "is this your car? did you steal this? why do you have this car?" and they would also be pushed out of town, not welcome, or just refused a lot of places. they would pull up and ask for service, and they would be told "no, we do not offer service to your kind." offeredook businesses that were open to african americans.
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the majority of hotels and restaurants were often owned by african americans, and they allowed other african americans to stay there. a lot of the hotels were also sometimes just homes that allowed people to stay there. but along with that, gas stations would often sometimes allow african americans service. -- which were known as the two most friendly african americans gas station's. they were often tied to the southern states, especially at this time. that is often because northern racism was much more subtle and often less up front and open. we did not necessarily see the "whites only" signs hanging in northern shops. people behind the counter would just say they could not serve african americans. george: when i first went, there was a person, a general manager, and he asked me if i would come and speak to his church, just to
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let them know what it was like to be a black person in the community, and perhaps recruit me to church. at anynot say that, but, rate, so i spoke to the church, and i explained what it is like family into the community when there are not very many people who looked like your people. explaining finished about bringing product into rochester, hair products, hair cuts, the importance of that, finding things for your family to do, they dispersed, and a lady came up to me and said, "well, i do not know why you folks are coming in, and you are taking jobs away from the well deserving white man that is trying to take care of his trying to take care of his kids, and you folks are always on welfare, and i do not understand why you feel like it
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is ok to do that." so i was shocked. i also went to school to get an education, to take care of my family, learn to take care of them, and i said i thought i needed an opportunity to get a job. and you get 10%, because that is the quota, i do not understand what you take that away from other people. at any rate, i did not have anything else to say. againnot speak to people in that environment for another 20 years. kevin: the green book extended to the north, and this included minnesota and even rochester. avalon hotel is the first place in rochester that is included in the green book. the avalon hotel started as a northwestern hotel, and it was
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bought by vern manning and renamed the avalon. themanningn purchased avalon with his wife needed to come and attend the mayo clinic, and they needed a place to stay. entered itt a hotel into a hotel for african americans and allowed african americans to state their -- stay there. george: rochester has changed significantly. small, but has a very diverse population of not only african but people from africa, people from mexico, a variety of many people have come, chinese. the mayo clinic is probably responsible for a lot of diversity work in bringing people in, and they also work with the diversity council, they
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started to help to create an environment that everybody would want to come or people would want to come. green book stopped in the middle of the 1960's in the lead up to the civil rights act. at this point in time, businesses could no longer refuse services to african americans, and therefore the green book necessarily was not needed at this time, according to the true letter of the law. george: i hope people come to the exhibit to learn a little bit about each other, to learn a little bit about what it was like then, and to learn how we can all work together, and so we do not ever need a green book. >> rochester, minnesota is one of many cities we have toured to tell the american story. to watch our tour, go to c-span.org/citiestour.
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watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. next, pulitzer prize winning presidential historian john meacham talks about what we can learn from history and how it can provide context for current events. "theiscusses his book, america," which slick set the civil war and argues that the nation has survived and improve. this talk was part of the american civil war museums annual symposium at the library cohosted by the university of virginia center for civil war history. now, i need to perform a more pleasurable duty of introducing a special guest. one of america's preeminent historians, jon meacham. many of you know him as the author of several

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