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Meet Candacy Taylor, the nation’s leading Green Book scholar and author, at the Washington State History Museum
Tacoma, WA – Cultural documentarian, author and photographer Candacy Taylor is the number one person you’d want to ask about the Green Book. She crisscrossed tens of thousands of miles in the United States to research and write The Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America. The 2020 book became the basis for The Negro Motorist Green Book exhibition, created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and co-curated by Taylor. The exhibition is on view at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma through June 12. The Black Heritage Society of Washington State has partnered with the History Museum and invites the community to meet Candacy Taylor at a free author talk and book signing on Thursday, May 19 at 6:00 PM.
“I'm honored and thrilled that this exhibition based on my research is at the Washington State History Museum. I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned over the last decade, driving over 60,000 miles documenting Green Book sites, and how much I've seen the country change since my book, Overground Railroad was published,” Candacy Taylor said. In addition to the book and work on the SITES exhibition, in 2022 Taylor published a young adult version of Overground Railroad and is adapting her research to a board game as well as a mobile app with Green Book walking tours.
Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, president of the Black Heritage Society, is excited about bringing Taylor to Tacoma to talk with the community. “It’s a special day when you get to meet someone of Candacy’s caliber, someone who has contributed so much to documenting history,” she said. “The Green Book was more than a simple guide; it uplifted the entrepreneurial spirit of Black business and made way for our ingenuity. Candacy Taylor’s scholarship has identified and uncovered the important stories of Green Book sites and connected experiences of individual Black travelers and entrepreneurs. She has brought this significant, relevant national history to light," Johnson-Toliver added.
The May 19 author conversation begins at 6:00 PM with members of Seattle’s African American Writers Alliance reading their original written responses to passages from Overground Railroad; at 6:45 PM, Taylor will take the stage to talk about her Green Book quest and bringing the Black past alive. Candacy will be in conversation with Stephanie Johnson-Toliver of the Black Heritage Society and Jackie Peterson, a Seattle-based exhibit developer and curator. Afterward, guests will have an opportunity to have books signed. Overground Railroad will be available for purchase ($35.00), and visitors are welcome to bring their own copies of Taylor’s books as well. The Washington State Historical Society will distribute 100 free copies of the youth version of Overground Railroad to young readers and families on a first-come, first-served basis.
The author talk falls on Third Thursday with free museum admission from 3:00-8:00 PM. Visitors will have time to explore The Negro Motorist Green Book exhibition before the author talk begins.
The Green Book was an annual travel guide created and published by Victor Green, a Harlem postman, with his wife Alma Duke Green, from 1936 through 1967, during a time when segregation, Jim Crow laws and sundown towns made travel difficult and dangerous for African Americans. The guide featured travel tips, safety information, and a directory of establishments across the U.S., from service stations to overnight accommodations to beauty parlors and tourism sights, where Black travelers would be welcomed. Many of the listings were Black-owned businesses. The Green Book had a national presence (some issues also had international listings) and a circulation of nearly 2 million by 1962. The publication drew to a close after the civil rights laws of the 1960s brought an end to legal segregation.
Candacy Taylor has been awarded fellowships from the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, the Library of Congress, the National Trust, National Geographic, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Graham Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the California Humanities for her Green Book project.
Details for the author talk and The Negro Motorist Green Book exhibition are available at www.WashingtonHistory.org/the-green-book.
The Negro Motorist Green Book was created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with Candacy Taylor and made possible through the generous support of Exxon Mobil Corporation. This exhibition has been locally supported by ArtsFund, Humanities Washington, and KNKX Public Radio. Public programming for the exhibition is supported by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Top: Candacy Taylor, courtesy Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.
Bottom: Book covers for Candacy Taylor’s Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (right) and the young adult version of the book (left). Courtesy Candacy Taylor.
About The Washington State Historical Society and History Museum
The Washington State Historical Society partners with our communities to explore how history connects us all. The Society’s most visible activity, the Washington State History Museum is located in downtown Tacoma on Pacific Avenue among a thriving cultural scene. The museum features interactive permanent exhibitions in the Great Hall, unique rotating exhibitions highlighting the Society’s collections, and dynamic feature exhibitions including high-profile traveling exhibitions. The WSHS also hosts events and programs on a wide range of historical topics; offers curriculum, downloadable exhibitions, and statewide educational support; and manages grant programs and provides consultation, support and resources for museums and heritage organizations across the state.
Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402m
Hours: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM Tues.-Sun. Third Thursday of each month, 10:00 AM–8:00 PM.
Admission: FREE for members; Adults $14; seniors (age 65+), students (age 6-17) and military (with ID) $11; free for children 5 and under; family rate $40 (up to two adults and four children under age 18). Patrons with a Washington Quest card and licensed Washington Foster Parents can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family.
About the Black Heritage Society of Washington State
The Black Heritage Society of Washington State, Inc. (BHS) was first proposed in 1977 and became incorporated in 1982. Preserving, collecting and sharing the history of African Americans in Washington State are the priorities that shape the BHS mission.
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 22961 Seattle, WA 98122
Physical Address by Appointment: 5933 6th Ave S Seattle, WA 98108
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