Review of Opening the Road, by Keila V. Dawson, illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Opening the Road

Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

by Keila V. Dawson
illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Beaming Books, Minneapolis, 2021. 40 pages.
Review written April 7, 2021, from a library book
Starred Review

Opening the Road is a picture book that explains in simple and understandable language how Victor Hugo Green saw injustice and inconvenience and turned it into an opportunity.

First, in several spreads the book lays out the situation:

Black motorists were told:
No food . . .
No vacancy . . .
No bathroom . . .
for Black people.

White American travelers could stop at any roadside restaurant, hotel, or restroom.

But Black Americans had to pack cold food, blankets, and pillows for sleeping in the car . . . and a make-do toilet.

Then it tells how Victor saw a Kosher Food Guide put out by a Jewish newspaper and wondered if he could make a book with similar information for Black Americans.

So Victor asked his friends and neighbors in Harlem where they safely dined, shopped, and played in the city. Victor worked as a mail carrier. Along his postal route, Victor asked folks about places that were welcoming to Black people too.

It tells how The Negro Motorist Green Book took off and expanded so Black travelers took it with them to safely travel the country. I like the detail that black female entrepreneurs rented out rooms in their homes in cities with no hotels willing to rent to Black people. The discrimination turned into an opportunity.

A lovely and interesting picture book about a pertinent and inspiring bit of history.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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