Michigan Receives African American Civil Rights History Grant

MEDC Communications

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

$75,000 grant will be used to document properties and sites related to African American recreation and tourism statewide



LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the Michigan Strategic Fund has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Historic Preservation Fund’s African American Civil Rights History program administered by the National Park Service (NPS), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today.

The grant funds will hire a preservation consultant to complete a survey of properties and sites related to African American recreation included in the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook published from 1936 to 1966 that provided lists of hotels, restaurants, and other establishments that were safe for African American travelers in that era. The information gathered during the survey will be used to produce a historic context on African American recreation tourism in Michigan and a nomination for a property to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

“Whether it be a gas station, rooming house, or resort, recreational and tourism-related properties are an integral part of the African American experience in Michigan, and receiving this grant will allow for a more complete understanding of that experience. The grant funding awarded to the African American Recreational Tourism and the Negro Motorist Green Book in Michigan project will deepen our understanding of this history,” said State Historic Preservation Officer Ryan Schumaker. “By identifying and celebrating these sites, the project aims to shed light on their historical importance and the role they've played in Michigan's history.”

Travel for African American families throughout the early twentieth century was challenging even in northern states like Michigan. In 1936, Victor H. Green, a New Jersey postal worker and civic leader, published his first Negro Motorist Green Book to assist travelers in finding safe places to visit and get fuel, food, other services. While initially limited to New York City, the books soon expanded to other states including Michigan. Michigan SHPO staff have identified approximately 210 sites listed in the Green Books for consideration and research.

Historic hotel in Woodland Park, Michigan


With the support of the federal Civil Rights grant, the research will be documented in a comprehensive Statewide Historic Context for African American Recreational Tourism, a historic resource survey, and NRHP nomination that will identify significant themes, trends, time periods, people, and property types, using national Civil Rights context and guidance from NPS.

“Since 2016, the National Park Service has provided over $126 million through this program to document, preserve, and recognize the places and stories associated with the struggle for civil rights of African Americans,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.

The Green Book project is one of 39 projects funded across the country as part of the African American Civil Rights Grants Program, which also includes a grant award to Eastern Michigan University to document sites associated with the Civil Rights movement on the east side of Detroit. This year’s award is the latest in a series of grants received by the Michigan SHPO from the NPS’s African American Civil Rights and Underrepresented Communities grant programs, the combination of which are focused on raising awareness of and preserving sites associated with historically underrepresented communities. To learn more about SHPO’s efforts to tell the story of such sites statewide, visit https://www.miplace.org/historic-preservation/programs-and-services/mi-civil-rights-project/.

Focused on the historic preservation of culturally or archaeologically significant sites throughout the state, Michigan's State Historic Preservation Office’s main function is to provide technical assistance to local communities and property owners in their efforts to identify, evaluate, designate, interpret and celebrate Michigan’s historic above- and below-ground resources. SHPO also administers an incentives program that includes state and federal tax credits and pass-through grants available to certified local governments.

To learn more about the State Historic Preservation Office, visit https://www.miplace.org/historic-preservation/.

The African American Recreational Tourism and the Negro Motorist Green Book in Michigan project is being supported in part by an African American Civil Rights grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, under Grant Number P24AP00801. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.


About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.