The history behind Bristol’s “Green Book” locations

Local

Bristol Tennessee, a city rich in history, is home to some of the only “Green Book” locations in the Tri-Cities during segregation.

The “Green Book” provided African American travelers with information on how to find hotels, restaurants and other places where would welcome them during segregation. 

“Across the way, about where that little pavillion is,” said Sid Oakley, “was the Morocco Grill.”

Oakley is the president of the Bristol Historical Association.

He showed News Channel 11 where the locations of these “Green Book” businesses used to stand. 

A playground is now in place at 1200 Moore Street where the former Morocco Motel & Grill used to be.

“It was the place in Bristol where people of color would stop and have a meal and spend the night,” said Oakley. 

The grill was owned by Luther Pookrum.

“It was great, might’ve been what we called soul food today,” he said, recalling a visit to see Luther at his restaurant and motel. 

However, Pookrum has since passed away.

“Unfortunately, the Morocco stood there until a couple of years ago when it was demolished,” said Oakley.

Another former “Green Book” site sits at 225 McDowell Street, which used to be called the M.C. Brown Tourist Home.

“It was listed as a place where blacks were welcome to come and stay,” he said.

Oakley said Willie Brown was an enterprising man that had three jobs.

“Mr. Brown was an undertaker and he operated a funeral home downtown,” he said. “He was also listed in the city directory as a porter.”

The site has seen better days and now sits vacant. 

“I don’t imagine they had customers every night,” said Oakley, “but obviously it was a thriving enough business to be listed in the ‘Green Book.'”

A movie entitled “Green Book” has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including best picture.

The Oscars are Sunday, February 24th at 8 p.m. on ABC Tri-Cities. 

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