From 1936 to 1964, Victor Green published the Negro Motorist Green Book, an International Travel Guide, a guide for African American tourists and travelers who were traveling during the Jim Crow era of American history.
Access to most public amenities and events was segregated by race during that period. Separate restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, railway cars, seating on buses, restrooms and water fountains were required of blacks and whites. For someone of African American cultural background, traveling necessitated a higher degree of planning. Where could a traveler find a hotel or restaurant that would serve blacks? Where were there service stations that would provide fuel or repairs to vehicles?
Only 16 towns in Arkansas were listed as having amenities for African American travelers. In Washington County, Fayetteville was the only city listed. The 1949 Green Book listed hotel service being provided by Mebbs at 9 North Willow Avenue, and that two homes provided lodging for travelers, Mrs. S. Manuel at 313 North Olive Street and N. Smith at 259 East Center Street.
The hotel listed as "Mebbs" was very likely a cafe called Webb's, run by Emma Webb in the early 1920s and later by her husband, James W. Webb, the pastor of St. James Baptist Church. Local phone directories listed Webb's restaurant at 14 N. Willow, 17 N. Willow and 101 N. Willow, suggesting that the Green Book listing might not be correct by the current addressing on Willow.
Susan Marshbanks Manuel, courtesy of Betty Davis
Mrs. S. Manuel is undoubtedly Susan Marshbanks Manuel, widow of Joseph Manuel and a matriarch of the Manuel and Hayes families. She was born about 1865 and died in 1951.
N. Smith was probably Naomi Smith, the widow of Emmett Smith and who lived at 304 E. Center St., the closest address to the address listed in the Green Book. Emmett Smith had been a porter at Silverman Bros. Jewelry on the square. Although she appeared in directories during the 1930s, by the 1940s, she is not listed in the Fayetteville directories.
The Green Book did not list any barbershops, beauty parlors or service stations in Fayetteville as patronizing blacks at that time.
See more about the difficulty of travel experienced by African American travelers at the Henry Ford Museum's website.