First published as The Negro Motorist Green Book by Victor H. Green in 1936, what came to be known simply as Green Book was a directory of hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other establishments that African Americans could patronize safely during segregation. Over the years, more than 300 North Carolina businesses appeared in Green Book, some still standing – and a few still open – today. The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission’s Green Book Project documents and celebrates these businesses, the heart and soul of our state’s African American community. Relive history at actual Green Book sites and visit other places rich in this culture.
1 The Historic Magnolia House
1 The Historic Magnolia HouseOriginal Green Book site in GreensboroSee on map
Established in 1949, the Magnolia House Motel housed families visiting students at nearby historically black colleges, as well as famous African Americans like Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Jackie Robinson and James Baldwin. Six Green Book editions listed it as a highly recommended place to stay. Restorations ﬁnished in 2012 revived the Victorian building, which now hosts Wednesday and Thursday night suppers (think ﬁsh and grits), a Sunday jazz brunch, and events like concerts and yoga classes set to live jazz.
2 International Civil Rights Center and Museum
2 International Civil Rights Center and MuseumGreensboroSee on map
Housed in the Woolworth’s building that sparked a desegregation sit-in movement by four North Carolina A&T State University students in 1960, the museum offers exhibits and artifacts dedicated to civil rights. The year 2020 marks the museum’s 10th anniversary along with the 60th anniversary of the sit-in.
3 Speight's Auto Service Center
3 Speight's Auto Service CenterOriginal Green Book site in DurhamSee on map
Opened in 1938, Speight’s gave black motorists a place to stop for gas, oil and repairs. Forced to move for a freeway in the 1960s, it was one of the few businesses displaced by urban renewal that reopened. Speight’s still works on cars and displays memorabilia from the shop’s history.
4 Pauli Murray House
4 Pauli Murray HouseDurhamSee on map
As an African American and women’s rights activist, lawyer, and the ﬁrst female African American Episcopal priest and saint, Pauli Murray played an integral yet often overlooked role in the most signiﬁcant movements of the 20th century. Murray spent her childhood years in Durham, where her family home was recently named a National Historic Landmark. The house is being turned into a center for history and social justice.
5 Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture
5 Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + CultureCharlotteSee on map
The 46,500-square-foot venue celebrates the art, history, and culture of African Americans and other people of the African diaspora through visual and literary arts, dance, music, ﬁlm, educational programs, stage productions, and community outreach.
6 St. Philips Heritage Center
6 St. Philips Heritage CenterWinston-SalemSee on map
The center, which is part of the Old Salem Museums and Gardens complex, interprets the historic town of Salem. Established by the Moravians in 1766, Salem was home to many enslaved and free people of African descent. The center includes a rebuilt 1823 log church and the 1861 St. Philips Moravian Church, which is still in use today.
7 The Block
7 The BlockAsheville
Asheville’s hub of African American enterprise in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was called The Block. It included restaurants, doctor’s oﬃces, a library and a boarding house. Today, tour company Hood Huggers International oﬀers visits to key sites and long-standing African American-owned businesses such as Benne on Eagle, dishing soul food and history.
8 Historic Jarvisburg Colored School Museum
8 Historic Jarvisburg Colored School MuseumJarvisburgSee on map
From 1868 until the 1950s, the school was one of few in the county to educate African American children. Today, the living-history museum features exhibits with testimonies from former students. Tours are available Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
9 Thomas Day House and Union Tavern
9 Thomas Day House and Union TavernMiltonSee on map
African American furniture maker and cabinetmaker Thomas Day ran our state’s most productive shop in the mid-19th century. His feats are recalled at this venue, now getting a new look that will feature some of Day’s actual furniture pieces.
Most of the North Carolina sites once listed in Green Book have disappeared into history, but you can see many of the businesses in their heyday, thanks to an online image archive. Discover more historically rich attractions in The Official 2020 North Carolina Travel Guide.