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Haven of the past: Reception marks ‘Green Book’ exhibit opening at Mosaic Templars

Reception marks ‘Green Book’ exhibit opening at Mosaic Templars by Helaine Williams | June 6, 2021 at 2:17 p.m.
Sabrina Taylor with Quantia Fletcher, the new executive director of Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and immediate past director Christina Shutt at the opening reception for the exhibition, 'The Negro Motorist Green Book,' May 20, 2021, at the Mosaic Templars in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Helaine R. Williams)

Rain threatened, but didn't fully show up for the May 20 opening reception of "The Negro Motorist Green Book," the exhibition now showing at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Quantia Fletcher, the new director of Mosaic Templars, and curator Courtney Bradford were among the officials who welcomed guests to a scaled-down version of what had been planned to be a block party-type event. Attendees enjoyed refreshments from a food truck; DJ-spun oldies inside the museum, just west of the lobby; and the exhibit itself, which is displayed on the first and third floors.

Gallery: The Negro Motorist Green Book Opening Reception

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/606mosaic/]

Through artifacts, historic footage, images and firsthand accounts, "The Negro Motorist Green Book" exhibition showcases travel for Black people in segregated, mid-20th-century America; its title is the name of a yearly guide begun by Harlem postman Victor Green in 1936 to provide information on restaurants, gas stations, department stores, hotels and other businesses that welcomed Black travelers during the era. Until 1967, "The Green Book" served as a resource for a then-rising Black middle class/leisure class in the United States.

Among the reception guests were members of Friends of the Latimore Tourist Home in Russellville, one of the Arkansas havens included in the guide.

"The Negro Motorist Green Book" was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian Candacy Taylor. The exhibition is made possible through the support of Exxon Mobil Corp, whose predecessor -- Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey -- played a significant role in the distribution of "The Green Book" through its Esso gas stations.

The free exhibition will be at Mosaic Templars through Aug. 1.

-- Story and photos by Helaine R. Williams

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