“Green Book” story told at Ft. Worth Museum Science and History

February 16, 2022

Dr. Frederick Gooding, TCU, at museum display on Green Book
Professor Frederick Gooding at the display he curated on “The Green Book,” at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, 2022

A museum display DFW school kids should get out to see, “The Green Book,” at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

Press release from Texas Christian University tells the story well.

Gooding Works to Make History Accessible

February 10, 2022

TCU professor is curator of The Green Book, an exhibit launching this month at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

One of the ultimate freedoms is that of the open road – the simple act of driving a car when or wherever you want to go. But in Jim Crow America, a road trip for Black travelers was far from liberating. In fact, a drive outside of the neighborhood was dangerous, especially in the South.

“Imagine that it’s the 1950s. You are Black and your children are in the back seat of your car and you’re going on a trip,” said Frederick Gooding Jr., Dr. Ronald E. Moore Honors Professor of Humanities. “Think how much of a threat it was to find a safe place to eat and sleep in terms of avoiding humiliation or violence. Even a gas station could be a risky proposition. You needed a resource for your family’s safety and protection because the stakes were so high.”

That resource was the Negro Motorist Green Book, published from the 1930s until 1966, a mere two years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act financially penalized racial segregation for the first time. The handbook provided a state-by-state list of hotels, service stations, restaurants and other establishments considered safe for Black travelers.

The associate professor of African-American studies and chair of TCU’s Race & Reconciliation Initiative, Gooding is now helping to share the story about the book and its originator, Victor Hugo Green. The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History approached Gooding to be chief curator of its new exhibition, “Fort Worth and the Green Book: Black Travelers Navigating Racism in Mid-Century Texas,” opening Feb. 11.

While the 2018 Academy Award-winning movie Green Book may have introduced the same title to many Americans, Gooding notes that the exhibit certainly takes a different path.

“Whether you’re 6 or 60, this exhibit will help set the tone for how bizarre and befuddling it was for African Americans to have to navigate a Jim Crow society and to heighten awareness of our relative progress,” Gooding said. “It’s been a treat to be part of the creation process as well as provide an opportunity for exposure.”

Morgan Rehnberg, the museum’s project leader, said it was clear that Gooding would be an ideal partner.

“His scholarship on race and culture, as well as his leadership at TCU in addressing the university’s history with race, has given him a unique perspective on Fort Worth,” Rehnberg said. “It’s been tremendously fun to see his enthusiasm shine into every aspect of the exhibition.”

After receiving a grant, the museum acquired the materials for the exhibit. As a historian, Gooding looked for ways to make it accessible.

“We started from scratch in creating a balanced exhibit that has many layers. That helps to bring The Green Book to life, and there’s something for everyone,” he said “It’s been an interesting ride looking to reconcile introducing people to a topic while providing them with enough tools to discover the truth for themselves.”

The exhibit is expected to be seen by close to 300,000, including many school groups, before it’s taken down in August. In conjunction with the exhibit, Gooding will present as part of the museum’s lecture series Feb. 21. His “Navigating the Road to Reconciliation” talk will explore how to leverage a multiplicity of voices and support the principles of reconciliation. For visitor information, visit Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

Tip of the old scrub brush to TCU’s Twitter feed.


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