Driving While Black, a feature-length documentary film directed by Ric Burns slated for broadcast on PBS during the 2019-2020 season, explores the role of the automobile in the lives of African Americans in the early twentieth century.  The film chronicles a crucial and transformative period in American racial, cultural, and social history. Based on over a decade of research by acclaimed African American historian Dr. Gretchen Sorin, the film draws on a rich archive of material from the period – including photographs, advertisements, road signs, maps, letters, and legal records – along with riveting oral histories and the on-camera insights of scholars, writers, musicians, artists, religious leaders and ordinary American travelers. The film will be structured by the emergence, flourishing and eventual obsolescence of a new genre of travel literature aimed at facilitating black automobile travel during the period; including The Negro Motorist Green Book – “the bible of black travel during Jim Crow” – published by a Harlem-based businessman named Victor H. Green, and his wife, Alma.

 

 

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