As America struggled through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s, African Americans in western Kentucky continued breaking the racial barriers in Paducah. They improved their quality of life by gaining education and training at West Kentucky Community and Technical College.
To honor the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in America, the Hotel Metropolitan has joined with West Kentucky Community and Technical College’s Diversity and Inclusion Office. They are resenting a new exhibition of quilts made by various African Americans quilters. Clemens Fine Arts Center Gallery, located on the WKCTC campus, will host the exhibition from April 25 – 28. Exhibit hours are 8 am – 4 pm. This exhibit is free and open to the public.
There will be a reception open to the public on Thursday, April 25, from 6 pm – 8 pm. There will be a presentation by guest speaker Dr. Nancy Dawson, an African-American history researcher and quilter. Dawson lives in Russellville and is a former professor and director of African-American Studies at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
The quilts will tell stories of the Jim Crow era in the form of fiber art. The quilts illustrate what it was like for African-American road trippers from 1936 to 1966. At that time African American’s used the Negro Motorist Green Book – a guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans. The book has been made famous by the 2018, Oscar winning film.
For more information about the exhibition please contact Chevene Duncan-Herring, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at WKCTC – 270.534.3209.
The Green Book
The Negro Motorist Green Book or The Negro Travelers' Green Book, or simply the Green Book) was an annual guidebook for African-American road trippers. It was originated and published by African American, New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against African Americans especially and other non-whites was widespread.
Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited black car ownership, the emerging African-American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could, but faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest.
In response, Green wrote his guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans, eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of North America, as well as founding a travel agency.
African-American travelers faced hardships such as white-owned businesses refusing to serve them or repair their vehicles, being refused accommodation or food by white-owned hotels, and threats of physical violence and forcible expulsion from whites-only "sundown towns".
Green founded and published the Green Book to avoid such problems, compiling resources "to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable."
The Hotel Metropolitan, located at 734 Oscar Cross Avenue in Paducah, will be open to the public Thursday, April 25- 27, 10 am - 4pm.
Dating back to 1908, the Hotel Metropolitan, located in the Upper Town district of Paducah, was the city's first African American owned hotel providing accommodations for African American travelers and visitors to the city in the days of segregation. It was a place of rest and comfort for entertainers and musicians traveling the "Chitlin' Circuit" of the south.
Its guest list is a Who's Who of famous African American's including Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, B.B. King, and Ike and Tina Turner, Justice Thurgood Marshall and more.
After desegregation, the hotel became a rooming house. In recent years, the property was donated to a local preservation group, rehabilitated and now serves as a museum of African American heritage. It is open by appointment.