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On Stage: "The Green Book" explores life on the road in the age of Jim Crow

Promotional poster for the play "The Green Book" (Courtesy: WVSU)

When you're loading up the family car and getting ready for a road trip, do you even think twice about the possibility you'll be harassed and discriminated against just because of your race?|

In segregated America, that was a very real part of life on the highway.

Based upon "The Negro Motorist Green Book," playwright Calvin Ramsey takes a look at the harsh realities African-American travelers faced during the era of Jim Crow laws in his production, "The Green Book."

Sort of a travel guide for African-American travelers who were driving around they country," Stuart Frazier (Director) said. "They were getting into the car culture, finally, in America. And 'The Green Book' was just a guide to help them find out what places were safe for them to stop."

During its three decades of publication, "The Green Book" was descrbed as "the Bible of black travel during Jim Crow."

The show focuses on a Missouri family which offers a welcome port in the storm to travelers passing through their town.

"There were many places where people like myself couldn't stay," Patty Rosebourgh (Barbara) said. "So, different families would open up their homes, feed the travelers and to also direct them to businesses and so forth."

"This is a slice of history that people don't generally talk about and I just found that to be fascinating," Frazier said. "I had heard about it vaguely and I just wanted to explore it more."

Although passage of the Civil Rights Act eventually made the guide obsolete, Ramsey's play details the difficulties black road trippers dealt with, ranging from finding restaurants which would serve them to listing mechanics and shops who would repair their vehicles if they broke down.

"Just an understanding of what people had to go through during these times to survive," Frazier said. "Understand where we as Americans came from, what our history has been and where we are now. Maybe get a little perspective on what is going on now?"

WVSU Cultural Activities and the West Virginia Center for African-American Art & Culture presents "The Green Book"
A Reader's Theatre Presentation
Directed by Stuart Frazier
Monday, February 6 at 7:00 pm
Davis Fine Arts Building
West Virginia State University, Institute, WV
Free Admission
Following the show, there will be a question and answer session with "The Green Book" playwright Calvin Ramsey

CAST

Russell Hicks
Patty Rosebourgh
Nastazia Mayo
Charles Minimah, Jr.
Crystal Good
Patrick Morris
Josh Gaffin


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