The Green Book was published from 1936 to 1967 as a guide during segregation to assist African Americans in identifying businesses that would accept them as customers when they traveled around the country. This included restaurants, motels, clothing stores, hair and beauty shops, nightclubs, gas stations, drugstores and more. The business locations covered the entire United States, with later editions including Canada, the Virgin Islands and, yes, Europe and Africa.

In 1952, the Green Book changed its name from the Negro Motorist Green Book to the Negro Travelers’ Green Book to complement the 1949 launch of its reservation bureau that helped people obtain passports and secure bookings for airline, railroad and steamship journeys. Founder and publisher Victor Hugo Green was encouraging national and global travel for Black Americans, notwithstanding a segregated environment.

At the end of the 1952 and 1953 editions, Green published a vacation section listing resorts, beaches, lodges and farmhouses receptive to Black patrons. This included locations on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and beaches along the Atlantic coast among other properties across the country.

Two of the most popular were Carr’s and Sparrow’s beaches on the Chesapeake Bay, near Annapolis, Md. South Carolina’s Atlantic Beach featured a Black section called the Black Pearl. In 1934, a Black businessman named George W. Tyson, established a portion of the beach by making a $2,000 down payment for 47 acres of oceanfront land that he sold to Black vacationers until 1957.

During this period, one of the most popular Black resorts was in Idlewild, Mich., about 60 miles from Grand Rapids. Idlewild’s 3,000 acres were purchased in 1912 by four white land developers, but it was marketed exclusively to Black people. After the prominent surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams purchased property there, other high-profile Black professionals and celebrities were inspired to join in. This was indeed the largest Black resort of its day, boasting more than 300 Black businesses in the area and more than 25,000 patronizing the area to fish, swim, camp and frolic with the likes of W.E.B. DuBois, Cab Calloway, Madame C.J. Walker, Zora Neale Hurston and many others.

Recall that Shearer Cottage and the Dunmere Cottage were among several properties on the Vineyard that were listed in the Green Book. Today Kahina Van Dyke owns the newly-refurbished Dunmere property as well as Narragansett House. Isabelle’s Beach House on Seaview has been added to her portfolio of welcoming accommodations.

Tracking the Green Book model of looking at historic Black resort communities is Calvin L. Butts Jr. and Carrington Carter who founded East Chop Capital Fund in 2018 to invest in vacation properties throughout the country. Calvin and Kahina are two talented Oak Bluffs entrepreneurs who understand that land provides the best foundation for access.

Congrats to Julieanna Richardson, pioneering founder of History Makers, for sharing her story on 60 Minutes last Sunday night. Highlighted in the television special is the fact that some 3,000 Black oral history interviews covering the achievements and struggles of African Americans can now be accessed through the Library of Congress.

Read a book, see a documentary or just chat with a friend or colleague this month about Black history!

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting. Randall Edward Taylor, rest in peace.