This month is Black History Month and Neuse Regional Libraries are taking this opportunity to celebrate the many chapters of black history that are directly connected to Kinston and the Neuse Region. Just last week we had a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Green Book locations in Kinston and other efforts to increase historic preservation of important black history sites in Kinston and the region.
On Tuesday, February 9 at 6:30 p.m., community members gathered in the Schechter Auditorium of the Kinston-Lenoir County Public Library and via Zoom to learn about the Green Book Project and its connections to Kinston. The program, led by Angela Thorpe, director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commision, covered the last three years of research by the Commission with a focus on the sites that were located right here in Kinston.
The Green Book was published between 1936 and 1966 as the “Negro Motorist Green Book”, and served as both a travel guide and a tool of resistance designed to confront the realities of racial discrimination in the United States and around the world. In North Carolina there were over 300 businesses that ranged from restaurants and hotels, to tourist homes, nightclubs and beauty salons. Out of those sites, four – the Blue Bird, Dove’s Auto Service, Mark’s Tourist Home and Cabins, and Phillip’s Grill – were in Kinston. Out of those four locations, two still stand, and only one, Dove’s Auto Service, is operational. Mr. Milton Dove, Jr., son of the original owner, was in attendance and we were lucky enough to benefit from his personal memories of the businesses discussed.
Thanks to the wonders of Zoom we were able to bring this program to more people than we otherwise would have been able to, and we also were able to record the program and you can watch it now at your convenience. To see the program, use this link – tinyurl.com/greenbooknrl – and subscribe to the Neuse Regional Libraries YouTube channel to get notifications on future videos of online programs!
The Green Book program demonstrated how bringing community together can help us better establish our history. One Green Book site, Philip’s Grill, may still be standing but the Commission has been unable to locate the exact location. Most likely near the South Queen Street Barber Shop, the Commission has Phillip’s listed as 415 S. Queen St. If anyone has any information, please contact the Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.The NC African American Heritage Commission compiled the information in an interactive web portal at https://aahc.nc.gov/green-book-project. The website invites visitors to explore Green Book sites in depth through historical vignettes, stories, and images. Please take some time to visit the site at your earliest convenience.
You still have another chance to participate live either through Zoom or in person in discussing Kinston’s black history this month!, Please join us on Saturday, February 27 at 2:00 p.m. to hear Dr. Rita Joyner present her research on the 1951 Adkin High School Walkout. This program will examine the relationships among the school, community, family, and church in Eastern North Carolina during segregation and is limited to 20 seats. Anyone interested in attending from home may join us via Zoom using Meeting ID 937 0830 0414 or use the Zoom Link found on the calendar of events on our web page at www.neuselibrary.org.
If you’re interested in winning one of three Neuse Regional Libraries reusable cloth tote bags, check out a book from our Black History Reaching Challenge selection. Each applicable book will have a Reading Challenge form inside. Read and review the book and turn in the form to be entered for a chance to win. For more information about the challenge, the upcoming Adkin High School program or the Green Book Project, please call 252-527-7066, ext. 134.