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Grant will help Michigan locate and research sites of African-American tourism history
Grant will help Michigan locate and research sites of African-American tourism history

A new grant from the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights History Program aims to help uncover some hidden historical treasures from the state’s past.

The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) will use the $75,000 grant to locate sites listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book. This book helped African-American travelers across the country from the 1930s to the 1960s find safe and friendly places to eat, sleep, or receive other services.

“Even though Michigan is in the north – we’re far from the south – not everyone was treated equally. And that’s especially true for people who were on the move,” said Nathan Nietering, project coordinator at SHPO.

Katie Kolokithas, survey coordinator at SHPO, said they have identified about three dozen of the 210 Michigan locations that are in the Green book. “It’s kind of a big treasure hunt for us right now,” she said. “And eventually we’ll hire a professional historian to do most of the research and writing for us.”

Kolokithas said they hope to ultimately use this survey as the basis for a more comprehensive history of African-American tourism and resorts in Michigan. Some of the Green Book Some of these sites no longer exist and the exact locations of others are still undetermined, but Nietering said the entire story is important.

“Even those that are no longer there, even if they no longer exist, they still help tell the story of where these people traveled and what was important to them,” he said. “Why did they come to Michigan? Where were they going?”

The state conservationists hope to appoint one at some point Green Book Property for the National Register of Historic Places.

By Isla