From Pages to the Silver Screen

Oscar nominated ‘Green Book’ receives high praise

The Oscar nominated movie, “Green Book” is shining a light on what life was like during segregation.

The movie is based on the true story of a musician in New York City and the travel guide he used to navigate the south during the 1950s and 60s. The book listed businesses that were safe havens for African Americans traveling through the south during segregation.

The movie tells the story of Dr. Don Shirley, an accomplished and brilliant pianist, and Italian American Tony Vallelonga, who is hired by Shirley to drive him on a concert tour through the deep south. The movie shows what life was like during that time as it takes viewers on the journey of these two men.

It also focuses on the relationship that grew as the two men struggled to overcome many obstacles that were thrown their way. Vallelonga uses the Green Book to identify hotels, restaurants and businesses that served African Americans during that time period. Although there were many locations that welcomed African American in Washington, D.C., locations in Northern Virginia were few and far between.

Warrenton, however, had several locations that were listed in the book. In Warrenton, listed places included a barber shop, a tourist home, a tailor, two beauty parlors, and three taxi-cab services. All were owned and operated by local black residents. While many of these businesses have closed, Walker’s Barber Shop remains up and running.

Vicki Moon, a contributing writer for The Fauquier Times, interviewed Robert Walker who now runs the shop. Robert’s father George opened the shop in 1938. In the interview, Robert Walker shared that he graduated from a segregated Taylor High School in 1954. He entered the hair cutting business at the age of 15 and has worked hard to keep the family business going. Walker told Moon that he has watched Warrenton grow over the years.

“I’ve been here long enough to remember when the town was smaller,” Walker said in the interview. “The integration here was peaceful. I never felt any harassment. This is the beginning of the South here, but Richmond is different.”

The actual Green Book was created in 1954 by Victor Green, an African American mailman from New York. Green quit his job at the post office to work on his travel book full time. The Green Book was designed to help African American motorists avoid segregated locations in the south. The movie sheds light on what life was like during the 1960s, educating everyone from young to old.

The movie has received great reviews, earning an 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.3 stars out of 10 on IMDB. It’s been nominated for many awards, including an Academy Award and a Directors Guild of America award. By being continuously nominated, Green Book has been getting more and more attention, drawing in watchers around the world.