A safe place to stay in the 1950s in Phoenix, Arizona if you're black
Time-travel with me to the 1950s to Phoenix, Arizona. In this story I'm a black man with a young family. I served in World War II, and I have a good job back east. I've been working hard, and I just bought a big, brand-new, beautiful car and I want to see the country.
The United States has some awesome new highways, so we can go anywhere. I just tuned up the car, filled it with gas, and we're on our way. But since it's the 1950s, and we're black, there are some severe challenges to face. This is the time of Jim Crow laws, and segregation. "Separate but Equal" is still the law of the land, and we can be turned away from restaurants, and hotels because we're black.
So we will be taking along the Green Book. It's been printed since 1936, and would stay in print until 1966. It shows places where we will be welcomed. After the mid-1960s, the United States laws changed, and "Separate but Equal" would go away as Unconstitutional.
But it's the 1950s, and since it's still the law, we can be turned away because of the color of our skin. We can be denied use of restrooms, we can be refused food, places to stay, and as horrible as it is, it's perfectly legal. And it doesn't matter how much money I have, this is based on skin color, and this is who we are, how God made us.
What a beautiful country! And the car is running like a champ! I'm glad we took this trip. We're in Phoenix. Let's see, the address is 1021 E. Washington, and we're looking for the Swindall Tourist Inn. OK, everyone out! Kids, go stretch your legs, but stay out of the street.
The Swindall Tourist Inn building is still there, at 10th Street and Washington. It just looks like any other ordinary old house, but as part of Phoenix history, it's extraordinary.
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Posted by Brad Hall