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In the summer of 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri.
Modeled after the international advisories issued by the U.S. State Department, the NAACP statement cautioned travelers of color about the “looming danger” of discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of Missouri law enforcement, businesses and citizens.
Rights - Organization - Action - State - Legislature
The civil rights organization’s action had been partly prompted by the state legislature’s passage of what the NAACP called a “Jim Crow bill,” which increased the burden of proof on those bringing lawsuits alleging racial or other forms of discrimination.
But they were also startled by a 2017 report from the Missouri attorney general’s office showing that black drivers were stopped by police at a rate 85 percent higher than their white counterparts. The report also found that they were more likely to be searched and arrested.
News - Motoring - Guidebooks - Travelers - 1960s
When I first read about this news, I thought of the motoring guidebooks published for African-American travelers from the 1930s to the 1960s – a story I explore in my book “Republic of Drivers: A Cultural History of Automobility in America.”
Although they ceased publication some 50 years ago, the guidebooks are worth reflecting on in light of the fact that for drivers of color, the road remains anything but open.
American - Culture - Movies - National - Lampoon
In American popular culture, movies (1983’s “National Lampoon’s “Vacation”), literature (“On the Road”), music (the 1946 hit “Route 66”) and advertising have long celebrated the open road. It’s a symbol of freedom, a rite of passage, an economic conduit – all made possible by the car and the Interstate Highway System.
‘Get your kicks on Route 66,’ Bobby Troup crooned in his hit song.
Freedom - Freedoms
Yet this freedom – like other freedoms – has never been equally distributed.
While white drivers spoke, wrote and sang about the sense of excitement and escape they felt on automobile journeys through unfamiliar...
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