Almost all of us use maps, whether paper or electronic, when going on trips. We use them for directions, traffic updates and more. But have you ever needed one to tell you what hotels or restrooms were safe for you to stop at because of your skin color?
In the early 20th century, racial tensions were high in the United States, specifically the South. It was difficult for African-Americans to travel, as many hotels would refuse to rent out rooms, restaurants would not serve them, and certain towns were dangerous to stop in. “The Negro Motorist Green Book” was written in 1936 by African-American mail carrier Victor Hugo Green as a traveling guidebook for African-Americans. It listed safe places to stop that would rent out rooms, serve food, and even allow the use of their bathrooms. A member of the Little Rock Nine, Ernest Green, stated that the book was “one of the survival tools of segregated life." The title of the film “Green Book” pays homage to “The Negro Motorist Green Book” and is inspired by a real-life trip taken by an African-American pianist during the 1960s.
“Green Book” is a dramatic comedy based on the true story of renowned African-American pianist Don Shirley’s tour through the South in the 1960s. Concerned about traveling through the South alone, Shirley, played by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali, hires former bouncer Tony Lip, played by two-time Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen, as his driver and bodyguard. Together, the two embark on a trip that forms an unlikely friendship, showcases the power of music and exposes racism and inequality.
Shirley is a highly educated and remarkably talented man, who white people will pay money to see perform, but won’t allow to eat in the same restaurant as them, due to the color of his skin. One of the most poignant scenes from the trailer, which you can watch below, occurs during an argument between Shirley and Lip, in which Shirley yells, “So if I’m not black enough and if I’m not white enough, then tell me, Tony, what am I?”
Green Book is a must-see film about music, friendship, and acceptance that remains relevant today. The story is compelling and will resonate with you long after you leave the theater (or after you leave University Union’s advanced screening!)
The advanced screening of Green Book is on Wednesday, November 7th in HBC Gifford at 8:30 p.m. Be sure to mark your calendars, so you don’t miss the chance to see one of the most critically acclaimed and highly anticipated movies of the year!
Bonus: Sam Smith and Logic also perform one of the songs on the movie’s soundtrack “Pray.” Give it a listen here:
By Annelise Hackett