This Green Book-Inspired Summer Road Trip Honors a Journey to Civil Rights

Visit these Black-owned establishments for a slice of Civil Rights history.

Excited family on a road trip in car, rear passenger POV

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From the 1930s to 1960s, Black Americans who owned cars typically took road trips when they traveled to avoid the perils of segregation on public transportation. The Negro Motorist Green Book by Victor Hugo Green became known as the “bible of Black travel” during the Jim Crow era and helped Black families find lodging, restaurants, and entertainment where they wouldn’t be discriminated against. 

Fast forward to now, we devised the perfect road trip for you and your family to experience Black and Civil Rights history and culture. We’ve gathered information on different Black-owned businesses, hotels, and restaurants that you should stop at along the way.

01 of 07

Stop 1: Brooklyn, New York

Children jump double dutch during the 11th annual block party held by the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, New York

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 Stay at the Black-owned Akwaaba Mansion, a bed, and breakfast located in Brooklyn. The quaint hotel has four guest suites that each can accommodate three adults or two adults and one child. 

While in Brooklyn, stop by BLK MKT Vintage, a shop full of vintage trinkets and antiques from across the African Diaspora. Think vintage Jet Magazine covers, vintage vinyl records from Black artists, and vintage “We shall overcome” buttons. The store also has vintage books, paintings, and sculptures. 

Next, head over to Black Nile Seafood and Soul Food where the chef makes the food from scratch daily. Black Muslim-owned, they only serve halal meat and poultry and don’t use any pork products. You’ll find foods on the menu appetizers such as crab cornbread and okra fries, along with entrees such as coconut yams, collard greens, fried catfish, and lobster tails.

02 of 07

Stop 2: Martha’s Vineyard

People walk through the streets of Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard

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August is when many Black Americans descend upon the island, off the coast of Massachusetts, just in time for the Vineyard’s African American film fest

Stay at the Black-owned Oak Bluffs Inn, just walking distance to the beach and shops. The inn has ten rooms and breakfast is included with your stay in the summer. 

Grab a bite to eat at Vineyard Caribbean for a taste of Jamaica, or takeout from Winston’s Kitchen. For breakfast and lunch, check out Biscuits famous chicken and waffles. 

Stop by the  Cousen Rose Gallery or Knowwhere Art Gallery  to indulge in some Black art. 

Take a driving or walking tour with the African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard and learn about 31 sites that are related to Black History on the island.

03 of 07

Stop 3: Virginia

Statue of Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia.

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Virginia is “home to the longest continuous experience of Black life and culture in the United States spanning more than four centuries,” according to the state’s tourism agency. While much of that history relates to life in America before the Civil War, there are still quite a few places to visit related to the Civil Rights movement and beyond. 

Stay at the Salamander Resort & Spa, located in Middleburg, Va , about an hour and a half outside of Washington DC. Owned by Sheila Johnson, the co-founder of BET, the five-star resort has plenty of activities for the family to enjoy, including horseback riding and ziplining. There’s also a kids’ camp. 

Head over to Farmville, VA to stop by the Robert Russa Moton Museum. In 1951, a student strike in this town spurred the lawsuit of Brown v. The Board of Education case in 1954, which went all the way to the United States Supreme Court and led to the desegregation of public schools. 

Then head to Lynchburg, and tour the home of Harlem Renaissance poet and civil rights activist Anne Spencer. Also, check out the special exhibits showcasing Blacks involvement in the city's history at the Legacy Museum of African American History . There’s also a Black History Walking Tour of the Old City Cemetery.

Next stop is Richmond, Virginia. The website Visit BLK RVA lists close to 70 Black-owned restaurants located in the Richmond area alone. The eateries range from offering Ethiopian cuisine to soul and seafood. The Visit BLK RVA  site also highlights black-owned boutique shops and cultural sites, attractions and tours. 

Some of the main historic attractions in Richmond include the Bill Bojangles Robinson monument in the historic Jackson Ward area, where the childhood home of the famed actor and tap dancer is located.  

While you’re there in Richmond, explore other historical sites such as the home of Maggie Walker, who became the first Black woman to charter a bank. Stop by Capitol Square to view the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial and go down Monument Avenue to view the monument for Wimbledon champion Arthur Ashe.

There are numerous Black-owned stores in Richmond such as Little Nomad, a children’s store with products made by local makers. Then head to Elegba Folklore Society to engage in experiences related to the African diaspora. The shop has books, arts, and fashion that celebrate African culture.

04 of 07

Stop 4: Tennessee

The National Museum Of African American Music (NMAAM)

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Head to the capital, Nashville, and check out the National Museum of African American Music. Just two years old, the museum dubs itself as the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans. 

Then take the three hour long Nashville Black History tour which covers everything from Civil Rights sites, to area Historically Black colleges to music studios. 

Eat at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack South to try what Nashville is known for - hot chicken. The family brings the heat with its secret recipes. The Prince family has been cooking hot chicken for nearly 100 years and are said to be the creators of Nashville’s hot chicken recipe.

05 of 07

Stop 5: New Orleans, Louisiana

A home is decorated to honor chef Leah Chase's gumbo in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Head to New Orleans to the Black-owned, historic, Nopsi Hotel, where you’ll find oversized guest suites and a rooftop pool. It’s located in the city’s Warehouse District, just outside the French Quarter.  At the hotel’s restaurant, Public Service, expect to find seasonal dishes such as oysters and causeway shrimp. 

Or stay at the Maison Dupuy just two blocks away from Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. 

While in New Orleans, you have to feast on Creole cuisine by stopping to eat at Dooky Chase which has been open since 1941, or indulge in the popular lunch buffet at Lil Dizzy’s. For a taste of Senegal, try Dakar NOLA

There’s a plethora of Black-owned establishments to visit in New Orleans such as The New Orleans African American Museum, The Backstreet Cultural Museum which tells the history of Mardi Gras, and the George and Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art, which is a private collection of art related to people of the African diaspora. This museum is open by appointment only. 

There’s also the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, which has been providing West African spiritual and herbal healing to natives and visitors for over 30 years.

Learn how to cook traditional cajun and creole dishes such as Jambalaya and NOLA style Banana Foster at the Deelightful Roux School of Cooking

And get the lowdown on the Black History, culture, and traditions of New Orleans by taking a walking tour with “Our Sacred Stories." Learn about the spiritual journey of the Afro/Creole community and its voodoo and Catholic roots. Led by a seventh-generation Creole, you’ll also learn to dance the second line and receive an ancestor's blessing.

Before leaving town, stop by the St. Augustine Catholic Church, the oldest African American church in New Orleans.

06 of 07

Stop 6: Alabama

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama

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Head to the Civil Rights District, where you’ll find the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, which is four blocks long, featuring landmarks such as Kelly Ingram Park, where children protesters were violently attacked by police dogs in 1963,  the A.G. Gaston Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his team strategized their non-violent campaign, the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four little girls died during a church bombing, and Bethel Baptist Church, which was also bombed during the era. 

Spend a few hours inside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to learn the entire history of how Birmingham’s Black residents played a major role in the Civil Rights movement. 

Shop at Ferrill African Wear, where you can find outfits from Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Kenya to name a few.

Try Birmingham’s famous fried chicken at “Yo Mama’s Restaurant,” or try some of JaWanda’s Sweet Potato Pies, which according to her Facebook page, was named one of the best pies in Alabama. 

Head South to Montgomery to visit the “The National Memorial for Peace and Justice.” This is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved people and people terrorized by lynchings, according to its website. 

Run by Black attorney Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative,  the memorial is located outdoors on six acres in Montgomery. It has 800 steel monuments that document the “thousands of racial terror lynching victims in the United States and the counties and states where this terrorism took place,” the memorial’s website states. The monuments look like columns and each represents a different county. The names of the victims are listed on the monuments.  

Then take the free shuttle to the Legacy Museum, a museum also run by Stevenson, which highlights Black Americans’ journey from enslavement to mass incarceration. Also located in Montgomery, the museum features everything from Jim Crow Law signs collected from around the country to a collection of laws gathered from across the nation that separated Whites from Blacks, and the opportunity to take a poll test. Visitors can also listen to people who were wrongfully condemned or the descendants of lynching victims. 

Stay across the street from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice Johnie Mae’s Butterfly Inn 1910 Victorian Home. Hosted on AirBNB, this two-story historic bed and breakfast inn has four bedrooms and is within walking distance of downtown. 

Take a tour with historian Jake Williams during his Civil Rights era bus tour. Founder of  Montgomery Tours, Williams lived through the Civil Rights movement and discusses everything from the Civil Rights mass meetings to the protests and the movement to register Blacks to vote. 

Stop by the Rosa Parks Museum on Troy University’s campus. Known as the only museum solely dedicated to telling the story of Rosa Parks, you’ll find her fingerprints taken during her arrest and a model of the 1950s-era bus that she was arrested on. 

Around the corner from the Rosa Parks Museum, try vegan food at Plant Bae. You’ll also want to order takeout at Brenda’s Bar-B-Q Pit, which was founded in 1942.  Before heading out of town, grab some coffee from “The Coffee House,”  the city’s first Black-owned coffee shop.

07 of 07

Last Stop: Atlanta, Georgia

A wreath is laid at the crypt of Coretta Scott King at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center & National Historic Site.

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When stopping in Atlanta, stay at the Hamilton Howell House, located near the King Center. It's a renovated 1893 mansion, with five guestrooms, and it celebrates African American history. It was built by the renowned Black architect, Alexander Hamilton, in 1893. The bed and breakfast inn has a full kitchen that guests can use and a private backyard. There’s the option to book a room or the entire house. 

From there, head to the nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, or “The King Center” for short to visit Dr & Mrs. King’s crypt and Freedom Hall which has exhibitions that focus on Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. 

Then head to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, where you can visit his childhood home, and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church Dr. King grew up in. 

Stop by “The Listening Tree” to stock up on Black children’s books. The store’s owner loves to support books written by Black authors. Or find novels at Brave + Kind Bookshop in Decatur. 

Peruse Fine art at ZuCot Gallery in downtown Atlanta. It is the largest African-American-owned fine arts gallery in the Southeast, according to its website. Its focus is exhibiting original works by living African American artists. 

Shop at The Black Wall Street Market, a collection of Black vendors, shops, and food. Or check out the Beehive, a Black-owned boutique selling handmade items by artists and designers from Atlanta, or The Village Market, a marketplace for products created by Black creators.  Then head out to Cascade for some roller-skating family fun. 

For a bite to eat, have breakfast at Atlanta Breakfast Club and try their Peach Cobbler French toast. Grab lunch from Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger chain. Then for dinner, have an incredible seafood boil at Tom, Dick, and Hank

No matter which destination you’re headed to, it’s pretty easy these days to find Black-owned establishments along the way. Just Google the city and Black-owned businesses or lodging and be sure to support. 

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