Smithsonian Channel Gives Canadian Audiences the Story of the Green Book in The Green Book: Guide to Freedom

By February 6, 2019News

New hour-long documentary premieres during Smithsonian Channel’s Canada-wide free preview

(Toronto, ON – February 6, 2019) – On the heels of the Golden Globe®-winning and Oscar®-nominated film, Green Book, Smithsonian Channel is giving audiences a deeper look into the real story of “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” The Green Book: Guide to Freedom tells the story of the remarkable travel guide that allowed African Americans to safely tour throughout the United States and parts of Canada during a time of severe institutionalized racism. The Green Book: Guide to Freedom premieres exclusively in Canada on Smithsonian Channel on Monday, February 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, during the channel’s nationwide free preview, and day and date with the premiere on Smithsonian Channel in the U.S.

The film features a wide array of experts delving into the history of the Green Book, including historians, business owners and individuals with first-hand stories of travelling while black in pre-civil rights America. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Yoruba Richen, the filmmaker behind The New Black, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom looks at the daily realities that African Americans faced on the road—the struggles, indignities and dangers, but also the opportunities and triumphs that were won along the way.

“The opportunity to premiere The Green Book: Guide to Freedom during our free preview allows us to share this meaningful documentary with Canadians nationwide,” said Jamie Schouela, President, Canadian Media, Blue Ant Media. “The historical significance of the Green Book as well as the touching first-person accounts are sure to resonate with our audience.”

During the first half of the 1900s and continuing into the era of the civil rights movement, segregation was a legal reality in the American South. When African Americans journeyed north and west, however, they encountered racism that spanned the entire country. The fact that discrimination was often unspoken made it even more difficult for black travellers to know if they were welcome – or in potential danger. The Green Book: Guide to Freedom shows how African Americans were confronted with the constant threat of violence – vandalism, assault, even death – while on the road. Even immensely popular performers like Nat King Cole were not immune to this racism; Cole himself was assaulted on stage in Alabama in 1956, and had to stay in segregated hotels when travelling.

The Green Book: Guide to Freedom also showcases the legendary businesses and communities that flourished due to the success of “The Green Book” itself. The film tells the story of the rise of the African American middle class in Detroit, journeys to the oasis of Idlewild (a vacation community in western Michigan where African Americans were able to retreat to their “Black Eden” in peace) and the iconic A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama – a pivotal location in the civil rights movement. The story of The Green Book shows the resolve of African Americans to thrive in a world that seemed to root for their failure by means of discrimination, violence and ignominy.

The book’s legacy endures, and though the guide has since been discontinued, Director Yoruba Richen points out that it continues to be rediscovered by a new generation and still serves as “a road map to some of the most significant people, successful businesses and important political milestones of the twentieth century.”

The Green Book: Guide to Freedom is written and directed by Yoruba Richen and produced by Steve Maher and Adam Luria of Impossible Factual Limited for Smithsonian Networks. Linda Goldman, Charles Poe and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.

Smithsonian Channel Canada, a Blue Ant Media specialty channel, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. Program genres, drawn from the world’s leading cultural institution, include air and space, science and nature, pop culture and history. Smithsonian Channel travels beyond the ordinary to reveal a vast scope of exciting stories and experiences that fuel the curiosity in all of us.  Featured series include Aerial America, Canada Over the Edge and The Lost Tapes. Follow us on: Twitter/Facebook