By Marivir R. Montebon
A writer’s work is never done.
New York City — In 2010, book writer Calvin Alexander Ramsey published a children’s book titled “Ruth and the Green Book” which earned him the Sequoyah Book Awards in 2013. The book, published by the Carolrhoda Books, discusses racism and prejudice to small children, appropriately aged between 4-9 years old.
He thought that was the end of that project, until last year, when he moved to New York from Georgia. Feedback from book readers and colleagues were quite compelling that he embarked on a continuity project of the children’s book, this time a poignant documentary of the Green Book.
His work wasn’t done yet after all.
In partnership with filmmaker Becky Wille Searles, the Green Book Chronicles is a work in progress. This 90-minute documentary film features the testimonials of Afro-American people’s discrimination and segregation.
It kicks off from The Negro Motorist Green Book which was originated by Harlem postal worker Victor H. Green from 1936 to 1967. Green first published 15,000 of this annual travel book in 1936 when discrimination against non-whites was widespread. It had a growing market of emerging black middle class who bought cars to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segregation and insult and to make his travel safe and enjoyable during the Jim Crow years.
Green published the Green Book that compiled black-friendly hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other establishments. He later ran his own travel agency.
Colleagues of the National Writers Union got Ramsey’s back in pursuing this project which he aims to finish in September this year. “I feel that this book and the documentary are a gift to me and I am sharing it with others,” he opined.
At the fundraiser put up for his project by the Len Ragozin Foundation, two important real-life actors in the Green Book Chronicles shared some moving and enlightening experiences.
Paula Wynter recalled in tears how his father pulled over and begged for a room in a hotel to sleep for the night as she was burning in fever. “The front desk person declined us because it will drive the other customers away,” she recalled.
“Until now, I can still remember my father cry so loudly. I can still see his anguished face although at that time I was just two years old. Here is a man who is proud and so sure of himself, being denied a room for me to get a good rest,” she said.
Printer Howard Glener whose company printed the Green Book using letter press technology said during the fundraiser party, “We are all exposed to prejudices. If we deal with it, we get better.”
Watch the trailer of The Green Book Chronicles here