The Green Book's Legacy in the Grand Canyon State

The Green Book, also known as the “Bible of Black Travel," served as a valuable resource to guide Black travelers to establishments where they could feel safe while on the road during the Jim Crow era. Learn more about the Arizona connection to this piece of Black history.

The “Negro Motorist Green Book,” more commonly known as the Green Book, is a poignant testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the African American community during the turbulent Jim Crow era, a time of racial segregation in the United States.

First published in 1936 by Harlem postal worker, Victor Hugo Green, the Green Book served as a valuable resource to guide Black travelers to establishments where they could feel safe while on the road.

The Green Book continued publication well into the 1960s and became known to some as the “Bible of Black Travel” with a goal to “provide assured protection for the Negro traveler.” It was a symbol of hope and empowerment, fostering a sense of unity among the Black community during a dark and troubling time in American history.

The Green Book went out of publication decades ago and many of the establishments listed within its pages have long since shuttered, the buildings demolished. But a few remain standing and operating, including several in Arizona.

The Green Book's Legacy in the Grand Canyon State
Credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections

The Green Book's Legacy in the Grand Canyon State

The Copper Queen

11 Howell Ave., Bisbee
Commissioned by the Phelps Dodge Mining company to accommodate investors for the nearby copper mines, construction began on The Copper Queen in 1898 and was completed in 1902. The hotel boasts 48 uniquely appointed guest rooms, a restaurant, saloon and swimming pool. It's also rumored to be home to three resident ghosts. Today the Copper Queen holds the honor of Arizona's longest continuously operated hotel.

Motel Du Beau

19 W. Phoenix Ave., Flagstaff
The storied history of Motel Du Beau began in the 1920s when hotelier Albert Eugene Du Beau was vacationing in Northern Arizona. He saw the area had the need for overnight accommodations to cater to auto travelers on their way to the Grand Canyon. The Motel Du Beau Inn opened in 1929 and became Flagstaff's first motel. More than ninety years later the Motel Du Beau still welcomes travelers from across the globe to stay and enjoy its historic charm.

The Green Book's Legacy in the Grand Canyon State

Murdoch Community Center

203 E. Brannen Ave., Flagstaff
Built in 1927 as an educational space for Flagstaff’s African American community, the center was originally called the Dunbar School. Over the years, much of the building was razed but what remained was reimagined in the 1970s as the Murdoch Community Center—named after a teacher and president of the original school, Cleo Murdoch. Today the center is an intergenerational and multicultural hub that preserves and celebrates the area's Black cultural heritage.

Pearl Polk’s Rooming House

211 S. San Francisco St., Flagstaff
Pearl Polk was an African American woman from Texas. During the Jim Crow era she converted her home into a rooming house where Black visitors could safely rent a comfortable room. Pearl also operated a Fountain Shop that offered sodas and ice cream. Her boarding house and soda fountain are no longer in operation, but the structure still stands next to the Flagstaff Rock Climbing Gym.

Swindall Tourist Inn

1021 E. Washington St., Phoenix
The Swindall Tourist Inn was an African American boarding house in Phoenix. The structure was built in 1913 and operated as a boarding house until its sale in 1940. Though impossible to confirm, rumor has it the likes of Count Basie and Jackie Robinson stayed there. The historic building still stands in downtown Phoenix, but today it serves as office space.

Green Book Historic Tour

In Flagstaff embark on a self-guided tour of local destinations listed in various editions of the Green Book. Stop by the visitor center (1 E. Route 66) for information. From the visitor center the tour takes 90 minutes by foot and 30 minutes by car.

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About the Author

Angel Fuchs

Angel Fuchs is a mom, wife, writer, photographer and social media maven. She is a third generation Arizonan and loves the heat and all that her home state has to offer. She enjoys writing about all things related to family, food, friends and fun! You can find her work in local publications such as North Peoria Lifestyle Magazine, Paradise Valley Lifestyle Magazine, Chandler Lifestyle Magazine and Arizona Green Living, as well as her own website, Yay Baby! blog. Angel is happily married and her real full-time job is private chauffeur/stage mom to her busy daughter, Jax.



Cities & Regions

From the abundance of Saguaro cactuses and unique wildlife in the Sonoran Desert to the high country and forests of the White Mountains to the breathtaking Grand Canyon, Arizona’s regions are full of experiences that don’t disappoint.